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Many schools in Vietnam to resume classroom learning earlier than planned



Several localities in Vietnam have changed their plans to allow students to return to schools after the Lunar New Year holiday about a week earlier than the original schedule.

K-12 and college students in the south-central provinces of Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan and the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap will go to school and take face-to-face lessons from February 22.

On the same date, ninth and 12th grade students in northern Thai Binh Province will also return to school, while students of other grades will continue online study until further notice.

In the southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau, the provincial Department of Education and Training on Friday said that offline classrooms will be organized for students who do not have access to online study from February 22.

Resuming in-person schooling way more earlier, all students in northern Nam Dinh Province and students of vocational schools in Dong Thap have come back to school since February 17.

Meanwhile, authorities in northern Bac Ninh Province and southern Binh Phuoc Province on Friday issued a notification requesting students to not return to school through February 28. Before that, these two provinces had planned to keep school closed until Sunday, February 21.

Elsewhere in such big cities as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, students will study online until the end of this month.

Before the Lunar New Year holiday, which started around the end of January for most of students across Vietnam, students were slated to stay home until at least the end of this month or further notice from educational authorities to help curb the new coronavirus wave that has hit 13 Vietnamese localities since January 27.

Schools have to ensure COVID-19 prevention and control measures after their resumption.

Facing different school-reopening schedules in localities, the Ministry of Education and Training has planned to build corresponding timetables for the current 2020-21 school year based on the experience from the previous school year, according to director of the ministry’s secondary education department Nguyen Xuan Thanh.

“If the outbreak lingers until March and all students still cannot return to school, the department will delay the end of the school year,” said Thanh.

“The schedule for the [2021] national high school graduation exam and the entrance exams at other levels will also have to be adjusted, with the former may be held in separate times as in 2020, if any localities are still unable to suppress the virus outbreak,” he added.

Schooling in Vietnam has experienced interruptions between offline and online modes since January last year when COVID-19 first hit the country.

The latest wave of infections since January 27 has seen a total of 770 locally-transmitted cases logged in 13 provinces and cities.

Among them, 590 patients have been reported in Hai Duong Province, 60 in Quang Ninh Province, 27 in Gia Lai Province, 35 in Hanoi, five in Bac Ninh Province, two in Bac Giang Province, 36 in Ho Chi Minh City, two in Hoa Binh Province, one in Ha Giang Province, three in Dien Bien Province, six in Binh Duong Province, one in Hai Phong, and two in Hung Yen Province.

The national tally stood at 2,362 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday morning, with 1,627 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.

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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.

A forged diploma, as advertised by a forgery service provider on social media in Vietnam

Universities’ perspective

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.”

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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.

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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
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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