Students in Ho Chi Minh City will begin returning to school next Monday after a months-long break due to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee on Tuesday issued a document regarding school reopening in the southern metropolis.
Accordingly, the back-to-school date will be staggered, starting on May 4, for ninth- and 12th-grade students.
Other middle school and high school students, as well as fourth- and fifth-graders, will return to school on May 8.
The rest of elementary school students will go back to school on May 11.
All students are expected to join their teachers in taking COVID-19 preventive measures on their first day of school, and only start taking lessons on the next school day.
Kindergartens will welcome five-year-olds back on May 18, while three- and four-year-olds will not go to school until May 25. Younger kindergarteners will resume school on June 1.
|A student checks the body temperature of another on their first day back at school after a three-month COVID-19 break at Le Viet Thuat High School in Vinh City, Nghe An Province, Vietnam, April 27, 2020. Photo: Doan Hoa / Tuoi Tre|
Ho Chi Minh City chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong has tasked the municipal education and social affairs departments with building a detailed plan for school reopening that includes guidelines on COVID-19 prevention at school.
District-level steering committees for COVID-19 prevention and control are asked to monitor local schools and educational institutions.
All schools and educational establishments are requested to implement a set of criteria on COVID-19 prevention and control and review their own implementation for reporting to relevant authorities by the end of Wednesday.
The city’s education department, its lower-ranked units, and local medical centers will give further guidance based on the reports to minimize the risk of infection and ensure safety for students.
Schools and educational establishments are also asked to fetch free face masks for their students from their district-level education and training division before May 2.
Earlier, the municipal People’s Committee decided to provide each of about 1,393,000 students in the city three with reusable face masks every month for three months from their back-to-school date.
Remote learning platforms are to continue to be utilized effectively until the school reopening dates, the municipal administration said.
Hanoi chairman Nguyen Duc Chung on Monday afternoon also requested the capital city’s education sector to make adequate preparation for all universities, colleges, vocational schools, high schools, and middle schools to reopen from May 4.
|A student checks the body temperature of another on their first day back at school after a three-month COVID-19 break at Luong Van Chanh High School in Phu Yen Province, Vietnam, April 27, 2020. Photo: Lam Thien / Tuoi Tre|
Students in Vietnam have been told to stay home since the end of Tet, or the Lunar New Year holiday, in early February as a precaution against COVID-19.
After the over-three-month break, middle and high school students in the southernmost province of Ca Mau and the northern province of Thai Binh were the first among their peers in the country to return to school on April 20.
On Monday, middle and high school students in about 30 other localities also followed suit.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally has remained at 270 since April 24, with 221 recoveries as of Wednesday morning.
Ho Chi Minh City has reported 54 patients, four of whom are in treatment, including three relapse cases.
Hanoi has confirmed 123 cases, with 22 patients still in hospital.
Both Ca Mau and Thai Binh have recorded zero COVID-19 infections to date.
No death related to the respiratory disease has been reported in Vietnam.
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Forged higher education diplomas openly on sale on social media in Vietnam
Advertising their services in broad daylight, forgery service accounts on social media are promising fake degree certificates with identical design and stamps from those issued by top universities of Vietnam — for the cost of just a few million Vietnamese dong. (VND1 million = US$44).
To investigate these clandestine operations, a Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter went undercover and telephoned a man who claimed to provide certificate forgery services on social media.
The person quoted VND4 million (US$174) for a bachelor’s diploma, while a master’s degree could cost VND10 million ($436). Payment is only required when the final products arrive at the customer’s location.
As if to clear the unspoken doubt in the buyer’s mind, the enigmatic trafficker ascertained that his forged diploma would come with ten notarized copies, plus an academic transcript.
“Don’t worry, they can’t be detected with the naked eye,” he affirmed.
According to the dealer, his products are made out of blank diplomas issued by higher education institutions.
“This particular school admits 5,000 students per academic year, so they have to prepare 5,000 blank diplomas,” he claimed.
“However, there’s no way all of these students are going to graduate, as they will quit along the way, leaving some diplomas unfilled.”
The man added that he was able to source these blanks and then use the ‘latest technology’ to produce identical replicas that even university officials cannot detect.
“Had my products been iffy, I would have been busted by now,” he doubled down.
Once the customer is convinced, the dealer would collect several personal details, including birth date, sex, and the university of choice that customer wants their name written next to on the diploma.
The man refused to give any preview of the product before sending it off, saying some customers have dodged payment after realizing photos of their forged certificates are enough to apply for jobs.
“I will get the certificates delivered to you in three days,” he vowed.
“You can inspect it before paying.”
Another forgery service provider on Facebook also promised counterfeit diplomas of mint quality, with wet signatures and a fail-proof guarantee against all notary services in Vietnam, for the price of VND8 million ($349).
According to the seller, his products, made from school-issued blanks, can be used to apply for jobs or promotions since employers barely ever cross-check the legitimacy of certificates with universities.
However, they cannot be used in applying for master’s programs, for the information on them would not match any records in the academia system.
|A forged diploma, as advertised by a forgery service provider on social media in Vietnam|
According to Nguyen Trung Nhan, head of academic affairs at the Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City, it is almost impossible for certificate blanks to be leaked from the school.
The school used to purchase certificate blanks from the Ministry of Education and Training, with the quantity strictly matching the number of confirmed graduates for the year.
Currently, the university is now manufacturing blanks in-house.
These blanks are stored in a room with three layers of lock, the keys to which are managed separately by three departments of the university.
After the list of graduates is confirmed, it requires the presence of all three departments to open the vault and obtain the correct number of blanks for certificate issuance.
Even if the blanks do get sneaked outside, universities can still easily expose forged certificates via cross-examination.
“We receive dozens of certificate cross-checking requests every week,” he said.
“There were times when we found 20 percent of scrutinized diplomas to be fake.
“The public can cross-check any certificate issued by us on the university’s official website.”
Bui Hoang Thang, head of academic affairs at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, also thinks that a leak of certificate blanks is highly improbable.
“Many recruiters are reaching out to us to cross-check the academic degrees of their candidates,” Thang said.
“We weed out a lot of fakes from them.”
Diploma blanks are issued by Vietnam’s official money-printing agency and are equipped with anti-counterfeiting details that can only be detected by a few people in charge, said Pham Ngoc Minh, former head of academic affairs at the Banking University of Ho Chi Minh City.
With a strict manufacturing protocol, the smuggling of blanks is basically implausible.
“Modern printing technology can generate identical-looking copies of blanks, but I can spot a fake with just my eyes,” Minh claimed.
“On top of that, most headhunters are cross-checking candidates’ diplomas directly with the universities or through their websites, which leaves no windows for fake diplomas to pass.”
Vietnam university publisher apologizes Australian author, pulls journalism book over plagiarism
A publisher in Vietnam has apologized an Australian author and recalled a book on journalism and communication after he found two university lecturers who are the writers of an article in the book plagiarizing his journal paper.
The publishing house under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City (VNU-HCM) had already pulled the book, published in Vietnamese in 2020, and registered for its republication, Tran Nam, chief of the communication and corporate relations bureau of the VNU-HCM’s University of Social Sciences and Humanities, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Friday.
Hoang Xuan Phuong and Vu Mong Lan, the writers of an article in the book, had been found plagiarizing a paper by Australian author Jim Macnamara in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, a peer-reviewed academic journal.
Phuong admitted to such plagiarism, saying Lan translated 85 percent of the paper into Vietnamese and included it in their book article without crediting Macnamara.
She claimed that Lan had asked her to symbolically co-author the article, which was meant to make it easier for the writing to be approved for publication, as Phuong was then head of the applied communication department, which is a part of the journalism and communication faculty under the top-tier University of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Phuong would have never made such straight lifting if she had written the article herself, she said.
“This is an oversight and a stain on my career,” Phuong admitted.
“I’m not denying that it has cost me my credebility, affecting the universities I’ve worked for.
“It is a painful lesson for me.”
Phuong is now vice-dean of the communication and public relations faculty under Van Lang University in Ho Chi Minh City, while Lan is a lecturer of the faculty.
Phuong quit her job at the journalism and communication faculty in October 2020.
On January 13, Macnamara emailed the journalism and communication faculty, which was responsible for compiling the book, to protest Phuong and Lan’s plagiarism.
The Australian author said that both had copied his paper, which was published in the Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly journal in 2016.
The Vietnamese publisher then apologized Macnamara and he accepted it, said Nam, the communication and corporate relations bureau chief.
In central Vietnam, teachers send care packages to students in quarantine
Teachers in Thach Ha District of Vietnam’s north-central Ha Tinh Province have prepared boxes of snacks, milk and books as items of comfort for a group of students who was quarantined inside a local school for suspicion of COVID-19 infections.
According to Dang Hong Quan, a military officer of Thach That’s Tam Lam Huong Ward, over 30 students were sent to quarantine on Tuesday after coming in contact with a young COVID-19 patient at the library of Tan Lam Huong 1 Primary School.
A group with the majority being fourth- and fifth-graders, these students are undergoing a 21-day period of quarantine at the Tan Lam Huong Preschool.
The youngest quarantined child in the group is eight-month-old N.A.D., who is being taken care of by four-year-old sister N.T.V. and mother N.T.H. in the quaratine ward.
However, parents of many other students would not be allowed inside the quarantine zone since only direct contacts of a confirmed transmission case, as well as medical officers, are permitted to stay there.
Considering the situation, a group of teachers in the locale has packed boxes of snacks, milk and books to provide comfort for the students during isolation time.
They have even added hand written labels with uplifting notes to cheer the students up during the challenging time.
H., mother of two quarantined students in the group, showed her gratefulness for the support that her children received from medical officers and teachers.
“Their living environment suddenly turned upside down, but my children are adapting well.”
|A label with uplifting message is attached to a care package. Photo: Van Sang / Tuoi Tre|
According to Nguyen Thanh Nga, head of the Thach Ha District Bureau of Education and Training, the library in question for COVID-19 transmissions gained permission to reopen on June 1.
Earlier, the library, as well as other education facilities in Ha Tinh, had been closed for nearly one month in an attempt to curb the fourth wave of COVID-19 tranmission of provincial authority.
After a group of students was sent to quarantine, local teachers and the provincial Youth Union have prepared packages of necessities as a gesture of care for the children.
“We hope that the gifts will help the students learn something and not waste their time in quarantine,” Nga said.
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