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5-year-old children hurrying for intensive practice writing classes

(DT) - The babyhood of Vietnam children seems to becoming shorter because they have to begin learning at the year of four or five instead of six.

Vietnamese parents now force their 5-year-old children to practice writing before they officially go to primary schools.

“I never thought before that my child should begin learning at the age of five. However, I now feel worried when hearing that children of my friends all can read and write already. Therefore, I have to bring my child to intensive mathematics and writing practicing classes now to prepare him for the first grade,” said Nu, a parent in Linh Dam residential quarter in Hanoi.

Every day, she and her husband take turns to bring the son to tutoring class and pick him from the class which is five kilometers far away from their house.

Ngoc, a mother in Kim Lien area in Hanoi, also said that she has asked her son to practice writing since after-Tet days.

“Previously, I thought that the curriculum for first graders was simple and no need to force my daughter to learn writing and reading in advance. However, it was my wrong decision,” Ngoc said.

Ngoc’s first child began going to school two years ago. On the first days at school, the teacher told Ngoc that her child was the worst in the class in terms of writing. As a result, Ngoc had to spend her evenings with the daughter until 11 pm, when both of them practiced writing and solved mathematics questions.

Ngoc said that she has learned lessons from the first child and she has been hurrying the second child to attend tutoring classes. “Now the boy can read and write fluently. However, I still ask him to continue practicing, because all other children now can read and write before they go to the first grade,” she said.

A lot of parents have got rattled over the children’s learning, as the new academic year will come in just two months, and they fear that their children do not have much time more to practice writing and reading.

On education forums, parents these days always ask each other about how to find tutors for their 5-year-old children. A lot of writing skill and mathematics practicing centers have been mushrooming to meet the increasingly high demand from parents.

Lien Huong, the manager of a writing practicing center located on Chua Boc street in Hanoi, said that right on the after-Tet days, a lot of parents have come and registered writing practicing classes for their children. Most of the children are preparing for the first grade. However, there are also the children who were born in 2006, which means that they will only begin going to primary school in 2012.

Lien said that some mothers registered two consecutive practicing hours for their children, saying that they cannot arrange time to pick up the children. However, the teachers of the center did not agree, saying that three consecutive practicing hours would be overloaded for the children.

“The children at the age of five remain small, who still prefer playing than learning, therefore, it is impossible to force them to learn too much,” Lien explained. “Moreover, their hands remain weak, and they get weary quickly. The thing that children at the age need to do is just to make acquainted with letters”.

At the age of four or five, many children feel like fish out of water when they come to classes. Some parents have to sit next to their children at the classes to calm the children down. A lot of parents have complained that children nowadays are less happy than the previous generations.

Dang Thi Le Thuy from Smile’s House, a children’s skill practicing center, said that most of parents want to provide as much knowledge to children as possible, fearing that they would lag behind classmates if they do not learn lessons in advance. However, she believes that this may bring more harm than good.

Psychologists believe that when children remain small, it would be a task beyond children’s capacity to ask them to write continuously for more than 20 minutes.

The difficulties children meet when practicing writing before their age would bring negative impacts to children, because this can decline the eagerness for learning. Meanwhile, there has been no scientific evidence showing that children’s handwriting will be better if they begin practicing writing soon.
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China told to stop harassing Vietnam’s ships

(DT) - Vietnam strongly opposed China’s acts on June 9 in harassing a ship conducting seismic surveys in Vietnam’s territorial waters in the East Sea and asked the Chinese side to stop repeating violations.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga made the protest at a regular press conference in Hanoi on June 9.

She reported to the media that at 6am on June 9, a Chinese fishing boat code-named 62226, supported by two Chinese fishery administration vessels code-named 311 and 303, deliberately hit the survey cables of Viking II, a ship hired by the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, when it was conducting seismic surveys at Lot 136/03 at a location 60 degrees 47’5” north latitude and 1090 degrees 17’5” east longitude on Vietnam’s continental shelf.

The Chinese fishing boat 62226 trailed a cable-cutting device into the vicinity of ship Viking II and became trapped in the network of underwater cables in use by the Vietnamese vessel, despite the Vietnamese side letting off a warning flare. As a result, the ship Viking II could not operate normally.

Then, the two Chinese fishery administration vessels joined with other Chinese fishing boats to rescue fishing boat 62226.

The seismic survey area being studied by ship Viking II is well within Vietnam’s 200 nautical mile continental shelf, and completely belongs to Vietnam’s area of sovereignty, in line with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the spokesperson affirmed.

"The act by those fishing boats and fishery administration vessels of China was absolutely intentional, well designed and well prepared,” Nga emphasised.

She added, “It seriously violates Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdictional rights, runs counter to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and goes against the common perception of senior leaders of the two countries on maintaining peace and stability in the East Sea, while causing significant economic losses for the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group.”

The incident took place just two weeks after a Chinese marine surveillance vessel on May 26 cut the exploration cables of ship Binh Minh 02 at Lot 148 in Vietnam’s continental shelf, bringing continuous tension to the East Sea situation, Nga said.

“China’s systematic acts were aimed at turning the region without disputes into one with disputes, and carry out its ambition to make China’s nine-dash line claim a reality, Nga said, stressing, “This is something that Vietnam cannot accept.”

“The Vietnamese side strongly opposes China’s aforementioned act and demands the Chinese side immediately cease all acts violating Vietnam’s national sovereignty and jurisdiction rights to its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone and not repeat them, and provide compensation for damages caused to the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group,” she said.

Later the same day, a Vietnam Foreign Ministry representative met with a representative from the Chinese Embassy in Hanoi to protest the act and affirm Vietnam’s stance, Nga said.
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Quang Liem becomes super international grand master

(BBC) - Vietnam’s number one chess player, Le Quang Liem, has officially become a super international grand master after he scored an Elo score of 2,700 on May 19, a rating that calculates skill levels of chess players.

The website which specialises in daily updates of super international grand masters’ Elo ratings, listed Le Quang Liem as one of the 40 super grand masters after he drew with U20 World Junior Chess Champion Dmitry Andreikin of Russia, within the framework of the Capablanca Chess Tournament in Cuba from May 9-21.

With this result, Liem, 20, has become the fourth Asian player, the only Southeast Asian player and the world’s second youngest player to make this ranking, after American Italian Fabiano Caruana, 19, who achieved an Elo rating of 2,716.

Liem said he hoped this success would offer him more chances to enter major competitions and compete with world-class players to overcome new challenges.
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Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook

(CNN) - Facebook's founder sees the social networking site as a tool with educational potential. That of course means getting kids Facebooking at an early age.

FORTUNE -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may be a college drop-out, but the billionaire 27-year-old is passionate about education reform. That's why he took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the heated topic (and why he thinks young people can benefit from social networking sites) at a recent summit on innovation in education.

Last year Zuckerberg pledged $100 million to the school system in Newark, New Jersey. At the NewSchools Venture Fund's Summit in Burlingame, Calif. earlier this week, Zuckerberg told interviewer (and venture capitalist) John Doerr that improving education and making the Internet more open are two of his favorite dinnertime topics.

Dressed in his signature T-shirt and jeans, Zuckerberg was uncharacteristically unguarded about his private life during the conversation, which lasted about an hour. He referred to his girlfriend of seven years, medical student Priscilla Chan, several times throughout the interview. He also shared anecdotes from his own education and upbringing, gave advice to other entrepreneurs and talked about why he wants kids under 13 to be on Facebook.

"Education is clearly the biggest thing that will drive how the economy improves over the long term," Zuckerberg said. "We spend a lot of time talking about this."

It's no surprise that Zuckerberg thinks the field of education--along with shopping, health, finance and other industries--will become much more social in the coming years.

"In the future, software and technology will enable people to learn a lot from their fellow students," he said. For example, students could see each other studying online in the hopes it would encourage more of them to study for tests.

Zuckerberg said he wants younger kids to be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. Currently, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that websites that collect information about users (like Facebook does) aren't allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. But Zuckerberg is determined to change this.

"That will be a fight we take on at some point," he said. "My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age."

But just how would Facebook's social features be used by younger children?

"Because of the restrictions we haven't even begun this learning process," Zuckerberg said. "If they're lifted then we'd start to learn what works. We'd take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe."

Here are a few other opinions and anecdotes Zuckerberg shared at the recent summit:

- Every year Zuckerberg sets a personal challenge for himself. His latest one is learning Chinese (he works with a tutor and regularly holds discussions with Mandarin-speaking employees at Facebook).

- The young CEO gets upset when the media focuses on him instead of the entire Facebook management team. He says he spends 25% of his time recruiting both inside and outside Facebook and never hires someone he wouldn't want to work for himself.

- Zuckerberg started coding in sixth grade, after he got his first computer. His first program? A virtual pet-like game starring Yoda (the goal was to keep Yoda alive).

- The best part of going to Harvard was the other students. According to Zuckerberg: "If I had the chance to go back to Harvard and finish, I just think of how many more awesome people I would meet."
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Coffee 'cuts prostate cancer risk' US study suggests

(BBC) - Coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of dying from prostate cancer in a study of nearly 50,000 US men.

Those who drank six or more cups a day were found to be 20% less likely to develop any form of the disease - which is the most common cancer in men.

They were also 60% less likely to develop an aggressive form which can spread to other parts of the body.

But charities say the evidence, reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is still unclear.

They do not recommend that men take up coffee drinking in the hope of preventing prostate cancer.

Unknown compounds

The study looked at about 48,000 men in the US who work as health professionals.

Every four years between 1986 and 2006, they were asked to report their average daily intake of coffee.

During this 20-year period, 5,035 of the men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, including 642 fatal cases.

No difference was seen between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, suggesting caffeine itself was not the cause.

But even relatively small amounts of coffee - one to three cups per day - were found to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 30%.

The researchers think there may be unknown compounds in coffee that protect against the disease.

Lead researcher Dr Kathryn Wilson, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said: "At present we lack an understanding of risk factors that can be changed or controlled to lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer.

"If our findings are validated, coffee could represent one modifiable factor that may lower the risk of developing the most harmful form of prostate cancer."

Commenting on the study, Dr Helen Rippon of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said other studies had not shown the link and the research evidence was still unclear.

She added: "Although this study is a welcome addition to our knowledge, it is far from definitive and we would not recommend men who are not already habitual coffee drinkers to become so in the hope of preventing prostate cancer.

"Heavy caffeine intake is associated with other health problems and men with benign prostate problems might well make urinary symptoms worse."

Yinka Ebo, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "There's no need for men to start drinking gallons of coffee in an attempt to lower their prostate cancer risk.

"A number of other studies looking at coffee and prostate cancer have found that drinking coffee does not affect the risk of the disease, and this study only found a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer in men who drank more than six cups a day.

"We would need to see these results repeated in other large studies before we can be sure whether coffee consumption affects the risk of prostate cancer."

Prostate cancer

- Each year about 37,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK
- Some 10,000 die from the disease
- Symptoms include problems passing urine but they may be mild or non-existent

The data

- Previous studies have shown no clear link between coffee and prostate cancer risk
- Men who drank six or more cups of coffee per day had a slightly lower risk of any form of prostate cancer and a substantially lower risk of lethal prostate cancer compared with non-coffee drinkers, according to the researchers
- Both caff and decaff were associated with similar risks
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