Archive for September 15, 2011

VIETNAM SCIENCE UNIVERSITY LEADS TERTIARY EDUCATION REFORMS

September 15, 2011

VIETNAM SCIENCE UNIVERSITY LEADS TERTIARY EDUCATION REFORMS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

The legacy of tertiary level education left by the French empire to Vietnam may not have been auspicious enough. Universities in the country tended to be over-centralized and filled with politics.

The coming to power of the socialists reinforced the clientelist politics within universities. Such a politics and over-centralization retarded the growth of universities as a whole, disabling them from responding to the professional and expertise needs of a growing economy.

To address the problem, a science and technology university is now being installed in Hanoi. France and the Asian Development Bank have collaborated to partly fund the ambitious project university which will open in six (6) years’ time.

The update report on education reforms is shown below.

[Philippines, 15 September 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/news/vietnam-s-new-science-university-marks-start-of-reforms-.html
Vietnam’s new science university ‘marks start of reforms’
Mike Ives
19 August 2011
[HANOI] A science and technology university under construction in Vietnam will promote a new model of higher education in the country, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The 5,000-student University of Science and Technology of Hanoi — to be completed within five or six years at a cost of US$213 million — will encourage stronger links between teaching and research, and promote collaborations with the private sector, said Norman LaRocque, senior education specialist at the ADB, which has lent US$190 million for construction.
France has donated about US$140 million to the university for development and operating costs over the next ten years.
Although smaller than other public universities in Asia, the university represents “a new model in the sense of having a much more autonomous and rigorous governance structure than virtually all of the other universities in Vietnam,” LaRocque told SciDev.Net. The curricula of Vietnamese universities are heavily influenced by central government planning, he said.
The university, which opened at a temporary location last October and is enrolling students, is part of a “bottom-up process of reform”, said LaRocque, adding that Vietnam’s higher education system is “overly centralised and highly politicised”.
Vietnamese universities typically cannot produce useful or timely research for industry, he said, and Vietnamese professors lag behind their counterparts from more developed South-East Asian countries in terms of academic productivity. In 2005, Vietnamese researchers produced about 2.5 peer-reviewed science and engineering articles per million people — roughly half that produced by researchers in Thailand, for example.
Phan Hong Son, executive director of Vietnam’s National Foundation for Science and Technology Development, acknowledged shortcomings in Vietnam’s university system but said the country is “pushing very hard” to improve educational standards.
The new university will “enhance the quality of higher education in Vietnam”, Son said, adding that it will help to ease mounting enrolment pressures associated with Vietnam’s largely young population.
A new generation of Vietnamese students is earning PhDs abroad and will eventually return to teach at the university, he said, but in the meantime, French professors will provide teaching and training.
Son welcomed the French involvement but said the new university may have trouble recruiting enough Vietnamese students who can follow technical lectures in English and French.
Son and LaRocque agreed that the university’s biggest challenge will be maintaining long-term support from the Vietnamese authorities.
“Ribbon cutting is really sexy, but it’s not so sexy to make sure you have enough money to keep the lights on, fix equipment and pay staff,” said LaRocque.
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DEVELOPING COUNTRIES LEAD CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

September 15, 2011

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES LEAD CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Developing countries are leading the planet in clean energy investments. The investments include Research & Development or R&D up through the installation of power generation facilities and marketing of downstream products.

The total global investments for 2010 was US$211 billions. China is the global leader as it invested a total of US$48.9. MENA (Middle East & North Africa), India, other Asian countries, Brazil, Mexico & Latin American countries, among others, also saw significant levels of investments worth billions of US$.

Another exciting development was the pattern that governments spent more than the private sector in investments. This is true for my country the Philippines, where state spending for R&D in, and production of ocean power, wind power, biomass (biofuels), geothermal, solar power, and hydro were consistently above private sector investments.

Below is the gladdening news from the SciDev.net.

[Philippines, 15 September 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/renewable-energy/news/developing-world-leading-new-investments-in-green-energy.html
Developing world leading new investments in green energy
Daniela Hirschfeld
15 August 2011
[MONTEVIDEO] The developing world has, for the first time, outstripped richer economies in providing new investment in the renewable energy sector, according to a report.
And research and development (R&D) funding from government sources, at US$5 billion in 2010, for the first time overtook corporate R&D investment, according to ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2011’, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) last month (7 July).
“The increase in government R&D funding is a global phenomenon and reflects, partly, the spending of money from the ‘green stimulus’ packages that were introduced [by some countries] in 2008–9 after the financial crisis,” said Angus McCrone, chief editor of the research and analysis provider Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which prepared the report.
“Several governments are keen to nurture renewable energy technology in their own countries, as a way of creating jobs in the future,” McCrone told SciDev.Net.
Total global investment in renewable energy grew by 32 per cent, from US$160 billion in 2009 to US$211 billion in 2010.
The 2010 increase owed much to China, the world leader, which invested US$48.9 billion in renewables.
But the strong push in favour of renewables is noticeable in much smaller economies such as Ecuador, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to Arnaldo Vieira de Carvalho, senior energy specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, United States. The findings show a “very important” modification of energy policy trends in developing countries, which is helping to create a business climate for investment into renewables.
The Middle East and Africa invested US$5 billion, more than double their 2009 investment; India invested US$3.8 billion; and Asian developing countries — excluding China and India — invested US$4 billion.
South and Central America made the second highest investment with US$13.1 billion, 39 per cent more than in 2009.
“Latin America has emerged in the last year or two as one of the sharpest growing markets for renewable power worldwide,” McCrone said.
Excluding Brazil, Mexico took the lead in Latin America, with an almost 350 per cent increase in 2010.
Argentina saw investment grow nearly seven-fold to US$740 million; in Peru investment more than doubled to US$480 million; and Chile and Venezuela have also seen important investment increase.
“The huge potential for expansion of this type of energy [in Latin America] has had a direct impact on investment in the sector, as well as on R&D in public universities and other research centres that also work with government funds,” Victorio Oxilia, executive secretary of the Latin American Energy Organization, told SciDev.Net.
Sven Teske, director of the Renewable Energy Campaign for Greenpeace International, said: “Investing in renewable energy research and building up a local renewable energy industry means investing in education and jobs — so in people — rather than in fuel. I think this is a smart move from developing countries.”
Link to full report [*free registration required]
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LOCAL LEADERSHIP IN AIDS MITIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES & ASEAN

September 15, 2011

LOCAL LEADERSHIP IN AIDS MITIGATION IN THE PHILIPPINES & ASEAN

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

From the Philippines comes a brightening news about AIDS prevention and mitigation.

The strategy being advanced by the Philippines-United Nations partnership is mitigation through involvement of local leaders. ‘Local’ refers to the leadership of local government units or HIV.

So far, a three-year programme called “Promoting Leadership and Mitigating the Negative Impacts of HIV and AIDS on Human Development” is now under implementation. The programme is aimed to benefit the Philippines and the ASEAN countries that will look up to the Philippines as exemplar for local participation in mitigation.
The update development is reflected in the report below by the United Nations Development Program.
[Philippines, 14 September 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/articles/2011/08/23/undp-philippines-take-aim-at-hiv-through-local-leaders.html
UNDP, Philippines take aim at HIV through local leaders
23 August 2011

Manila — The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) and the Philippine government are working together to address the Southeast Asian country’s rising number of new HIV cases, scaling up outreach and intervention based on local leadership.
The United Nations alerted the government in 2008 that Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6—halting or reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS—was least likely to be achieved by 2015.
The following year, the United Nations and the government launched a three-year programme called “Promoting Leadership and Mitigating the Negative Impacts of HIV and AIDS on Human Development.”
This partnership has so far aided more than 200 local government units, provided HIV and AIDS orientation to more than 1,000 local government officials, and engaged more than 250 local HIV/AIDS activists across 17 regions in the Philippines. Some 100 local AIDS coordinating bodies, such as local AIDS councils, have been established and strengthened and 44 local HIV policies developed.
“UNDP wanted to be a little bit different and look at HIV in a holistic way, from a governance perspective, which is a real UNDP niche, and to look at leadership issues especially at the local level,” UNDP Philippines Country Director Renaud Myer said. “We also try to identify governors or mayors who take a stand on HIV publicly and then we go and provide them with direct assistance.”
The programme supports and strengthens sustainable local AIDS responses by developing leadership capacities of local governments and establishing Regional AIDS Assistance Teams. These comprise representatives from the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Health, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Local governments are in a better position to craft a more effective strategy because they know their area, they know how communities would handle this problem, and the kinds of vulnerabilities in their areas,” said Austere Panadero, Under Secretary for Local Government at the Department of Interior and Local Government and Vice-Chair of the Philippine National AIDS Council.
According to a 2010 UNAIDS report, the Philippines is one of only seven countries worldwide reporting an increase of more than 25 percent in new infections since 2001.
“There has been great improvement in the last two years with regards to localizing the response to HIV and AIDS,” Dr. Ferchito Avelino, executive director of the Philippine National AIDS Council Secretariat, said.
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ZAMBIA’S FREE AIDS TREATMENT

September 15, 2011

ZAMBIA’S FREE AIDS TREATMENT

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Gracious day from the Pearl of the Orient!

A very gladdening news has been released recently concerning free treatment for Zambia’s AIDS patients. An expensive treatment regime, eradicating AIDS is a tough task for Zambia and other developing countries.

AIDS has become a general epidemic in the country. An average of 14.3% of Zambian population have been infected with the virus, with a higher percentage for women (16.1%) then men (12%). The United Nations Development Program already joined the fray in AIDS treatment, with US$141.8 million worth of grants donated to fund the huge treatment program in all regions of the country.

Below is the update report on Zambian AIDS treatment from the UNDP.

[Philippines, 14 September 2011]
Source: http://www.beta.undp.org/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2011/08/19/global-fund-and-undp-sign-grants-for-141-8-million-to-support-zambia.html
Free HIV/AIDS treatment for 400,000 people in Zambia
19 August 2011
Lusaka – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on behalf of the Ministry of Health in Zambia, has signed two Global Fund grants totalling US$141.8 million that will allow some 400,000 people to access free HIV/AIDS treatment over the next two years.
The Zambian Ministry of Health will scale up access to treatment by creating 68 new antiretroviral therapy (ART) sites and supplying drugs to all 454 existing ART sites throughout the country. Global Fund support will provide ART drugs to some 214,339 patients in 2012 and more than 195,679 in 2013. HIV-positive pregnant women will also receive treatment to prevent transmitting the virus to their unborn babies. These grants will also support procurement of laboratory equipment to improve diagnosis and treatment for patients infected with both HIV and tuberculosis.
Zambia has a generalized HIV epidemic, with the 2007 Zambian Demographic Health survey (ZDHS) reporting the HIV prevalence among women and men aged 15-49 at 14.3 per cent. Women have a higher rate of infection (16.1%) than men (12%), while city-dwellers have a higher infection rate (20%) than those living in rural areas (10%).
Despite progress in the national response to HIV and AIDS, the number of People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHIV) continues to rise as a result of new infections and longer lives among those already infected and receiving ART drugs. According to national estimates, a total of 408,966 adults and 30,520 children will require ART in 2012, and these numbers are expected to rise to 435,619 and 30,644, respectively, in 2013.
With these grants, the Global Fund will support the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Health to strengthen the health systems, preventing new HIV infections and increasing survival rates. UNDP agreed in December 2010 to act as Principal Recipient managing Global Fund grants in Zambia while the recipient institutions and Ministry strengthens its own capacity to administer the funds.
“Coming from 2009, this is the perfect outcome of our combined efforts as partners: It is now our responsibility to ensure that every kwacha is accounted for and every commodity is secure and reaches the intended people,” the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Peter Mwaba said.
Since December 2010, the Ministry of Health has worked with UNDP in managing projects financed by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria. With this partnership, UNDP will help the Ministry of Health deepen its own institutional capacities, including its financial management and oversight systems so that it may resume the role of Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants as soon as possible.
“With these grants, Zambia can procure more medicines and pharmaceutical and other health products and equipment. The grants will work towards significantly reducing the number of new HIV infections across Zambia and also boost the capacity of health facilities to provide improved antiretroviral therapy, counselling and testing services,” UNDP Resident Representative Kanni Wignaraja said.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria is the largest international channel of financial support for work on those three diseases, which disproportionately affect the world’s least developed countries. UNDP works with the Global Fund in 27 countries, handling some 12 percent of the Fund’s overall portfolio, to ensure that funding is invested in effective programmes for vulnerable populations. UNDP’s partnership with the Global Fund has already provided treatment to address more than 26 million cases of malaria and 700,000 cases of tuberculosis in Southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Belarus, Haiti, and Tajikistan. The experiences and learning across countries will benefit the efforts initiated in Zambia.
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