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Remarks at Topic 64 Center Visit in Vietnam

Michael W. Michalak, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam
Dong Anh Continuing Training Center
Hanoi, Vietnam
March 24, 2008

2:45 pm

Mr. Ta Xuan Nghia, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Information and Communication's ICT Department, Mr. Le Xuan Binh, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Education and Training's ICT Center, Mr. Nguyen Kha Hung, General Secretary, ông Anh District People's Committee, Mr. Ming Lei, QUALCOMM Vice President for Business Development; Ms. ặng Thị Huấn, Director of ông Anh Continuing Training Center; ông Anh students, staff and teachers; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today to cut the ribbon on this newly upgraded ông Anh TOPIC 64 site and to tour the training center. I understand that the new CDMA2000 EV-DO technology at these training centers will allow for faster and more reliable connectivity. I hope some of the students here can show me how the new technology works!

One of the best parts of my job is to have the opportunity to travel and see great projects like this one. Since Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Gia Khiêm launched the TOPIC 64 Program in April 2006, it has continued to gain attention and international praise for its innovative use of technology to provide reliable connectivity throughout Vietnam and to spur innovation and entrepreneurial achievement. As my staff can tell you, I have been anxious to follow the example of my good friend and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Susan Schwab by visiting one of these training centers to see firsthand the good work of the TOPIC 64 partners.

I would like to commend and thank all of the TOPIC 64 partners for your invaluable contributions to this unique and trend-setting public-private partnership. I am impressed by the accomplishments that you have achieved through the combined resources and know-how of some of the best-known U.S. companies – Microsoft, QUALCOMM and Hewlett-Packard; with some of Vietnam's technology leaders – EVN Telecom and the Hanoi University of Technology, through its Center for Research and Consulting on Management; with collaboration and support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In only two years, the TOPIC 64 centers have trained more than 85,000 students, including 24,000 students at the original 64 centers. Additionally, almost 1,000 teachers have completed TOPIC 64's train-the-trainers course offered at the TOPIC 64 centers. TOPIC 64's dramatic results over a relatively brief period reflect what is possible when smart minds come together to discover an effective means to tap Vietnam's considerable potential for growth.

In English, there is an old saying that if you give a man a fish, he can eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he can eat for a lifetime. I think that analogy fits nicely in today's world, with computers and modern technology replacing the "fish." Following along those lines, the TOPIC 64 partners have now given over 85,000 Vietnamese the skills they need to "fish," in today's increasingly digitized and computerized world. Those skills will be critical in helping Vietnam reach its economic and development potential and in helping to foster a thriving IT sector here – something I know we all want to see happen.

Here at the ông Anh Continuing Training Center, Ms. Huấn and her staff of instructors have contributed significantly to the TOPIC 64 Program's accomplishments by providing training for students at the primary, secondary and high school levels, and by using technology to provide vocational, technical and University-level instruction.

As you may know, expanding education opportunities is one of my top priorities during my tenure in Vietnam, and I am pleased that USAID and its U.S. and Vietnamese partners have contributed to that goal through the TOPIC 64 Program. In addition to my commitment to double the number of Vietnamese students studying in the United States before I leave in 2010, I recently hosted an education conference that brought together over 200 U.S. stakeholders to discuss how we can work together to enhance educational programs here. From that conference, and from my many meetings with U.S. firms, I can tell you that the skills you are teaching students at these centers are in great demand.

Let me conclude by adding one more item to the list of reasons that I am excited about the TOPIC 64 Program. In addition to all of your contributions to the fields of education and technology in Vietnam, the TOPIC 64 partners and staff have opened the door and shown the potential for future public-private collaboration. Your demonstration of what can be achieved by combining the talents of our two governments and private sectors leaves me extremely optimistic about the possibilities for future cooperation in a broad array of fields.

Thank you for inviting me today to participate in this great event, and thank you for your work to building the IT human resource capacity in Vietnam in a way that strengthens the ties between our two countries. Now, let's go check out what this new technology can do!

Released on March 28, 2008

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