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Schools near empty as freeze hits north

In Uncategorized on January 12, 2011 at 7:05 am




Schools near empty as freeze hits north


QĐND – Tuesday, January 11, 2011, 21:36 (GMT+7)

Primary schools and kindergartens in the capital are struggling to maintain normal operations during the current cold spell.


Hanoi’s schools saw massive student absences on Jan. 10 despite the temperature staying above the 10 degree Celsius benchmark, below which children are not required to attend primary schools and nurseries.


Trang An Kindergarten in Thanh Xuan district, for instance, welcomed only a quarter of its students. And Vu Thi Hang, a teacher at Hoa Tra My Kindergarten in Cau Giay district, said only half of her students had turned up.


Le Minh Khanh, the mother of an 8-year-old girl, said she still took her daughter to school although 27 of 50 children in the class had not shown up.


“It was very cold; I just wanted to let her stay home but unfortunately the weather forecast at 6.30am today said it was 11.3 degree Celsius, which meant she had to go,” she said.


Meanwhile, Nguyen Hoang Ha said he preferred to keep his 4-year-old son at home as the boy was already suffering from a cough caused by the weather.


Dinh Thuy Duong, principal of Thanh Xuan Trung Primary School, said almost one sixth of her students had not come to class on Jan. 10, a much higher than normal absentee rate but still lower than other schools in the area.


She said the students staying home would make it hard for teachers to keep up with the curriculum given that a new academic term had started.


Teachers would have to work more to help those absent children catch up with the rest of the class, she explained.


She also said that school activities had been adapted to minimise the effect of the current cold weather on children.


Changes included cancelling outdoor activities, turning on heaters, providing warm drinking water, and warm blankets and mattresses for children when taking naps, Duong said.


Nguyen Thi Dong, principal of Hoa Sen Kindergarten in Ba Dinh district, said her school was now serving meals that would give children more energy in the cold.


Hanoi ‘s Education and Training Department has also allowed schools to stay open later than usual in cold weather.


“I hope parents don’t panic. Children are being kept warm in class,” said Duong.


“Please trust us. Bring your children to school so that they won’t fall behind with their schoolwork.”


The Department’s office head Nguyen Hiep Thong said the 6.30am forecast were used to decide if children had to go to school.


While children at primary school and kindergarten level were not required to attend if their local day temperature fell below 10 degree Celsius, the benchmark for lower secondary school students was 7 degree Celsius.


However schools had to take care of students who still turned up despite temperatures lower than these benchmarks, said Thong.


“It is a good, flexible decision as not all parents can afford to have their children at home. They still have to go to work no matter how cold it is,” said Khanh.


The temperature on the peak of Mau Son mountain in the northern province of Lang Son dipped to -1 degree Celsius on Jan. 10 morning, the lowest this winter, while temperatures in other northern provinces were between 1 and 11 degrees Celsius after the arrival of a new cold spell on Jan. 9.


Meteorologists said another cold spell was going to northern Vietnam on Jan. 11, keeping temperatures low.


Source: VNA


Source: QDND

Empty promises, vote-buying in Philippine slums

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 at 4:37 am

Colourful campaign banners hanging from decrepit cardboard walls lend a lively contrast to the filth of Manila’s North Triangle slum as a candidate presses dirty palms for crucial votes.

Facts on the May 10 Philippines’ national elections. Philippine election officials have insisted that next week’s polls will go ahead, amid frantic efforts to replace more than 70,000 faulty memory cards that were to be used in vote counting machines.

As the politician’s yellow-clad volunteers spread leaflets around, community organiser Teodosia Gacer ambushes them with a list of what she claims are undelivered promises to the slum’s more than 30,000 residents.


“We have not seen you around here since the last election three years ago — when we helped you win!,” Gacer tells the sweating politician, who is obviously embarrassed as a small crowd gathers around.


“You people only come here whenever you need our votes, but disappear on us once you win.”


The politician stammers an apology, and whips out a two-page resolution he authored temporarily stopping an impending eviction as proof he had been working on their behalf after all.


Squatting under the shadow of a huge mall and the Philippine capital’s overhead railway, the 37-hectare (91-acre) North Triangle in suburban Quezon city is one among many sprawling shanty towns blighting the metropolis.


About 35 percent of Manila’s 12-million population live in these colonies, according to the World Health Organization.


Often cursed as a haven for petty criminals and outcasts, these slums are rich in votes and turn into a political force during election season that could make or break a candidate’s career.


Politicians have been braving the slums weeks ahead of Monday’s national election, when 50 million voters are eligible to pick a new president, members of congress and thousands of other government posts.


In North Triangle, candidates kiss the cheeks of babies swathed in dirty clothes and mingle with men stroking the feathers of their fighting cocks.


“We allow them to come here and hang their campaign materials, regardless of party affiliation. But of course, we vote for those who can protect us,” Gacer told AFP.


“Others vote for those who bring blessings,” she said, using a euphemism for monetary bribes offered by candidates.


A 54-year-old mother of two adult children, Gacer heads a non-profit organisation that provides basic services and conducts voter education campaigns for North Triangle residents.


She said it was no secret that many slum dwellers sold their votes because money remained their only tangible and immediate benefit.


“The political strategy of (candidates’) coordinators is to go on last-minute house to house on the eve of elections,” Gacer said.


“They will knock and go inside homes to make sure they get their votes. They place money inside sample ballots. The smallest amount is 500 pesos (11 dollars).”


That is a kingly sum that will go a long way in an area where eating three square meals a day is a luxury.


“That is democracy at work for you. These politicians steal the money from public funds anyway, and we just take a small amount back on election day,” Gacer said.


For 53-year-old Rosalinda Caspe the bribe money brings much needed nourishment to her 15 children and grand-children, who live with her in a small, windowless shack.


“Of course I’ve taken money… life is so hard. I used the money to buy rice and food,” the jobless widow said. “My reasoning is, it is the public’s money anyway, why should I not accept it?”


She said that in the local elections three years ago, she was paid twice by just tagging along caravans of opposing politicians.


While no politician will openly admit to buying votes, they acknowledge the importance of slum-dwellers to their election hopes.


“I rely on my voters in the squatters depressed areas,” Manila mayor Alfredo Lim told AFP while on the campaign trail in the city’s Tondo slums.


He said he had never bribed a voter, but estimated that “about 90 percent” of those who will vote for him will likely come from the slums.


 

Source: SGGP

Remote schools remain empty after holiday

In Social life on February 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm




Remote schools remain empty after holiday


QĐND – Thursday, February 25, 2010, 22:10 (GMT+7)

Students in remote and poor areas nationwide are dropping out of school after the Tet holiday despite the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET)’s best efforts to support poor students returning to class.


Before the Tet holidays, the ministry sent a document to departments of education and training nationwide to provide help and support to poor students so that they would not drop out of school after Tet, an annually re-occurring problem.


In many schools, teachers are finding that students have not returned to class.


Student absences are mainly due to having to help their parents in farming, according to Tran Thi Viet, principal of Hoang Then Primary School in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau.


For some other students, it is because they want to have longer holidays, she said.


Even with the efforts of teachers visiting parents to persuade them to get their children to return to school after Tet, schools only welcomed 86 per cent of the students on the first school day after the holiday.


Some 150 students out of 1,800 students at the school failed to return after Tet, accounting for 8.4 per cent of the total, three times higher than the allowed rate of the MoET.


Only 70 of 250 students in the secondary school of Tra Lanh Commune in the central province of Quang Ngai returned to school after the holiday, according to Dinh Van Lep, head of the Education Unit of Tay Tra District.


Meanwhile, only 90 per cent of students in Nam Se Secondary School in Lai Chau came to school after Tet, according the school’s principal Pham Thi Mai.


“Some of them have quit school, but others return after a long Tet holiday as it is traditional for Dao ethnic people to take a longer break, this happens every year,” she said.


Nguyen Xuan Luong, vice principal of Mu Sang Primary School in Lai Chau said he was worried as students taking long periods of time off school could affect their studies.


Ngoc Anh, principal of Trung Leng Ho School in Bat Xat Commune of northern mountainous province of Lao Cai , said that the provincial People’s Committee had to support the school in calling for students to return to class.


The commune’s authority would also organise a festival to gather residents in the commune and ask them to take their children to school.


To tackle the problem, MoET has recently ordered departments of education and training in cities and provinces nationwide to set up lists of students in difficult circumstances.


Schools nationwide will have to submit their reports on the number of students dropping out of school after the Tet holiday to MoET by the end of this month, according to Do Thi Van, an expert at the ministry’s Department of Planning and Finance.


Source: VNA


 


Source: QDND

Homes built for displaced residents sit empty

In Vietnam Society on December 18, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Hundreds of homes built to house displaced residents along coastal areas in the Mekong delta province of Ca Mau stand vacant or have fallen into disrepair.








Homes built for displaced residents in the Mekong delta province of Ca Mau sit empty. Most residents say it is impossible to earn a living in the new area and have left to find work. (Photo: SGGP)

The residents, forced to relocate after development projects encroached on their land, say the compensated homes do little good as they can’t make a living in the new areas.


In Ca Mau’s Ngoc Hien District, 86 houses were constructed for residents along Rach Goc Coast after they were displaced by construction projects. However, just 42 of the new homes are occupied while the rest sit empty. 


Concerned agencies used to provide the residents with poultry and pigs for breeding, but it was not enough for people to eke out a living.


Many have refused to live in the homes and left in search of work elsewhere.


Facing abject poverty and potential starvation, some locals headed for coastal areas while others retreated to the jungle to hunt animals and pick fruit. Some have also tried to sell their houses.


Mr. Le Van Hoang and Ms. Mai Thanh Giang said they bought homes in the area at VND19 million and VNĐ9 million respectively from the original owners. Mr. Hoang said the first owner sold the house because he couldn’t find work.


Ms. Giang added that the previous owner of her house had never even stayed there. Meanwhile, woodworms have now attacked tens of houses left empty.


Ta Hoang Phong, head of the village O Ro, confirmed the situation. He doubted whether anyone would be able to stay long in the area, as they were unable to sustain a living.


The chairman of Ngoc Hien District People’s Committee, Le Van Su, said that while the government endeavored to create new homes for the resettled inhabitants, it failed to address whether they could also establish livelihoods in their new environment.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Empty planes evacuated from besieged Thai airport

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Bangkok (VNA) – The People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) let some planes leave the main Suvarnabhumi airport on November 30 to pick up stranded tourists from other airports after agreeing to a request by Thai authorities, according to news agencies.

A total of 88 aircraft have been stranded at Suvarnabhumi international airport since demonstrators stormed the terminal and forced it to close on November 25.

An Airports of Thailand spokeswoman was quoted as saying that 37 aircraft have left Suvarnabhumi since the first aircraft of Siam GA (a regional airline) took off in the evening of November 30.

The PAD protest movement has refused to leave the airport, and the smaller Don Mueang domestic hub in Bangkok which it has occupied since November 27, until the government resigns.

Thai police on November 30 ordered the thousands of protesters to end the siege of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, warning that offenders would be jailed or fined.-