by Phuonng Mai
Crowded test-prep market leaves students in a tizzy
With national graduation exams scheduled for July, high school seniors are scrambling to find reference books so they can ace the test.
Tran Minh Tuan, a student at Ngo Quyen High school in Bien Hoa City, is one of the many seniors who have been looking for books at new and second-hand shops.
He says there are just too many books from which to choose, with many written by well-known authors and famous publishing houses.
He finally bought an eight-book set from the Viet Nam Giao Duc (Education) Publishing House containing 10 topics and questions related to exams compiled by university lecturers and high school teachers.
TuaE1n says he believed the books were officially compiled and released by the Ministry of Education and Training. But the ministry, in an official announcement last week, said they had not published these books.
In early months every year, central and local publishing houses, local education and training departments, and the education ministry publish exam preparation books.
Online bookstores like tiki.vn and vinabook.com have nearly 100 titles on all subjects including literature, maths and English. Some of them have even been recommended by schools or teachers.
But the ministry says that students should use these as supplemental materials only.
At an online talk organised by the Viet Nam Government Portal on Wednesday, Nguyen Vinh Hien, a deputy minister of Education and Training, said students should not depend on reference books and instead should focus on textbooks, which are compiled by the ministry.
Young scientist invents ‘God's Eyes' for visually impaired
"Everything I do must be meaningful," says Nguyen Ba Hai, the inventor of Mat Than (God's Eyes), a sighted-guidance tool for the visually impaired.
Hai, a lecturer at the HCM City University of Technical Education, began making the device after returning to VieE4t Nam in 2006 from the Korea University of Technology and Education, where he earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering.
To focus on the work, the 28-year-old turned down several good jobs.
"The Mat Than is a promise I made to visually impaired people when I was at university," he says. "It helps them to feel something in front of them and sense how far it is from them."
In the beginning, the device had the shape of a helmet, but after three years of tinkering, the ninth version looks like a pair of sunglasses. It is called Mat Than 2 and priced at VND12.2 million (US$100).
Hai and his colleagues worked to launch a company, which now has six staff and dozens of volunteers, to produce the device in large quantities. Out of 100 glasses produced, they sell five and the remaining are given to visually impaired people throughout the country.
"Thanks to sponsors and volunteers, we can continue to be a non-profit organisation. Perhaps there are many people who wish to bring a better and more comfortable life for thousands of people," Hai says. — VNS