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Ministers of science and education on centre stage at NA

Update: June, 13/2015 - 09:17
Minister Pham Vu Luan

HA NOI (VNS)  — The Ministry of Education's projects and the Ministry of Science and Technology's efforts to develop a science and technology market were on centre stage during yesterday's National Assembly (NA) Q&A session.

Minister Nguyen Quan answered the deputies' concerns about the current lack of a science and technology market in Viet Nam.

Quan explained that a science and technology market is typically one of the last markets to form in developing nations. Its development relies on four factors: demand and supply of science and technology, intermediate institutions and a legal environment for science and technology issues.

Quan said the two last factors received inadequate attention from the Government.

A very basic legal environment for science and technology activities was set up in recent years, Quan said, but it needs fleshing out. He added that weak intermediate institutions widened the distance between science research, production and business activities.

Technology transaction centres to encourage scientists and businesses to cooperate were established in the major cities. Small budgets, however, hindered their development.

Under questioning, Quan admitted that, as minister, he hadn't done enough to satisfy the needs of a sci-tech market. Quan said the ministry would focus on this in the coming time.

Deputy Nguyen Manh Cuong from Quang Binh Province questioned the efficiency of science research projects funded by the state budget. Minister Quan also admitted that some projects couldn't be used for practical purposes.

Projects that focus on pure scientific research can't be used for business purposes right away because the content is often ahead of the curve and can only be applied once society develops further, according to the minister.

Other projects funded by the Government are only for research and production in trial phases. Government monetary support is crucial as private enterprises in Viet Nam are mostly of small and medium size and cannot afford to invest in such projects.

However, Quan said proper implementation of the 2013 Law on Science and Technology could address the issue since its strict requirements encourage practical applications of research work.

Now in order for projects to be funded by the state, market demand for it must be shown. Additionally, organisations or agencies that contract researchers must commit to use the results in real-world applications.

In response to concerns voiced about science and technology in agricultural production, minister Quan mentioned funding and infrastructure difficulties.

Education concerns

Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan stood up to answer questions about the ministry of education's ongoing projects.

Luan spoke about textbook and examination reform projects, explaining that adequate human resources is of top importance. The ministry, in efforts to meet the demand, is conducting intensive teacher training nationwide.

Regarding updating education and training infrastructure projects, the minister said they would build and renovate school facilities, as well as invest in new teaching equipment, especially digital and hi-tech devices.

Minister Nguyen Quan

Many deputies also voiced concerns about changes to high school graduation examinations.

Starting this year, the ministry combines the annual national high school exam and the university entrance exam.

The results of the exam will both determine if students graduate from high school and whether they qualify for admission to tertiary education.

Minister Luan said students would not find the changes shocking. "The ultimate purpose of the reform is to make change for the better," Luan said.

In response to concerns about degraded student morality and school violence, the minister admitted that many teachers focused solely on providing knowledge rather than fostering students' talents, personality and character.

He said a shift from knowledge acquisition to a comprehensive focus on students' talents and character was needed to address the problem.

On the new teacher assessment methods for primary school students, Luan said backward policies and teachers' mindsets were responsible for the confusion in the past year.

Since late last year, primary school students were weaned off a traditional marking system for their work. Instead, teachers judged them through comments on their overall capacity and performance.

Though the ministry ordered schools to drop old and outdated policies, many education and training units at grassroots levels have yet to be in accordance with new policies.

Some cited the fact that overloaded classes hinder teachers' ability to implement the new evaluation system since it requires more effort from teachers to make comments for each student.

However, Luan said he believed that, with an open mind, the changes in the evaluation system would bring about good results.

Ministerial admission

During the morning session, Industry and Trade Minister Vu Huy Hoang continued to respond to deputies' questions on the issues of counterfeit and low-quality products claiming to be made-in-Viet Nam, current efforts to promote Vietnamese products, national security of electricity supplies and the connection of rural areas and islands to the national network.

The minister acknowledged that the country's numerous legal documents and regulations have not been able to sufficiently reprove and deter smugglers and counterfeiters.

He said punishments must be made stricter and the Government endeavours must focus in catching ringleaders, improving the public's awareness and encouraging them to join anti-smuggling, anti-counterfeiting efforts.

Hoang said it was important to have a dedicated and honest force in the fight against smuggling and other illegal trade practices.

Answering an issue raised by deputy Dieu Huynh Sang on counterfeit and low-quality goods being sold in remote and mountainous areas where residents lack information and knowledge to tell the differences, Hoang said the ministry had issued orders to local market-watch forces to enforce stricter control and vigilance to prevent these goods from being sold.

He noted that effort to promote Vietnamese products showed positive signs. A recent survey by the ministry indicated that more than 70 per cent of the country's consumers said they preferred Vietnamese products over foreign products in the same quality and price range.

The Industry and Trade Ministry pledged to continue to promote Vietnamese goods, aiming to put them on the shelves of 90 per cent of supermarkets and trade centres across the country.

Hoang said there would be no shortage of power supply in the near future until 2020 and after 2030, except for sporadic lack of power in the country's southern region during 2017-2018.

The minister said the Government electricity programme planned to connect 100 per cent of communes and wards to the national grid by 2020. There were still 55 communes and more than 1,000 villages in remote and mountainous areas to be connected.

Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung asked the ministry to submit a report to the NA's next meeting to review the implementation of the Government resolution to address issues raised by NA deputies during this meeting. —VNS

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