by Gia Loc
New app offers resources for exam candidates
Students at the HCM City University of Science have spent two months creating a mobilephone app that provides maps, emergency hotlines, accommodation advice and test-preparation materials for candidates of university entrance exams.
"I hope they find it easy to use," said Minh Duc Uy, a member of the group who created the app.
He said that students and families could use the maps to find the venues for university exams, which begin on July 4.
The app also provides information about free and low-cost accommodations for students who do not live in the city where the exams are held.
Information about lodgings was taken from the Exam Season Assistance Programme for Candidates organised by the Ministry of Education and Training and the Student Assistance Centre of the HCM City-based Viet Nam Student Association.
The free app, called Exam Season Assistance, can be downloaded from the Google Play store. The app was created independently and is not affiliated with the ministry.
Retiree gives interest-free loans to poor students
For the last 13 years, retired teacher Truong Thanh Canh of Ben Tre Province, who once struggled to afford a university education, has been offering interest-free loans to poor students who want to attend college, vocational school or university.
Canh, 83, says he was inspired to raise money from his sister after hearing about Nguyen Van Tien, a graduate from the Ben Tre High School for Gifted Students, in 2001.
Although Tien had been accepted by the HCM City University of Technology, he was unable to enroll because his family was too poor.
Canh's sister, who was sympathetic to Tien's plight, agreed to pay his tuition as well as the fees of 10 other students whose families could not afford university costs.
Tien's father, Nguyen Van Day of Huong My Commune, described the loans as "a bridge linking poor students to a bright future".
Canh says that each student at that time received VND3.6 million (US$170) to cover tuition, and later, in the 2005-2006 academic year, overseas Vietnamese, who had heard about Canh's loans through the commune grapevine, began to sponsor poor students as well.
Canh then began offering loans to students who wanted to attend college or vocational school, and a VND10-million ($476) loan to master's degree candidates. He has also provided loans for laptops and English-language courses.
The students pay back the loans after they graduate and find a job, Canh says.
Mountain man sells birds to pay son's exam fees
Lo Van Tuyen, a Tay ethnic man from mountainous Cao Bang Province which borders China, travelled by bus with his son this week to Ha Noi, accompanied by a cage of 10 grackle birds that he had caught in a forest near his home village.
Tuyen estimates that if he is able to sell all of the grackles to bird lovers in Ha Noi, he will be VND3 million (US$142) richer. This would be enough to cover their bus fare, his son's university entrance-exam fees, and their lodgings and meals in Ha Noi, where the exams are being held.
"As a parent, I hope my son passes the exam. However, if he is admitted to university, my big worry is about paying his tuition," he says. — VNS