The United States' Agency for International Development's "Connecting the Mekong Through Education and Training" project (USAID COMET) aims to develop UD as leading Mekong Learning Center in the ASEAN Economic Community



On 3-4 October 2016, the project team of USAID COMET visited the University of Danang (UD) and University of Economics, a member of UD (DUE). These two universities comprise two of five Mekong Learning Centers (MLCs) in Vietnam selected to join the project. The meeting aimed to assess and review the implementation of the USAID COMET project over the past six months. The teams also discussed opportunities and challenges at for the USAID COMET Project at the two Mekong Learning Centers - UD and the DUE.


Meeting Overview

Dr. Michael Calvano – Chief of Party, USAID COMET and Prof. Tran Van Nam – President of UD


The United States Agency for International Development Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training (USAID COMET) project was launched as part of President Obama’s Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative (YSEALI). The five‐year, $12.4 million workforce development program in the Lower Mekong countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam aims to: improve youth employment with market‐driven skills, promote gender‐balanced employment in key growth sectors, and increase technology‐based learning solutionsin universitiesand vocationaltechnical colleges though the use of innovativetrainingapproaches.


USAID COMET conducted a labor market assessment in each of the Lower Mekong countries and discovered that many of the companies surveyed stated that new employees were not “work ready” and required additional training. USAID COMET seeks to narrow this skills gap by training lecturers on new teaching and facilitation techniques that enable learners to enter the workforce with an entrepeneurial mindset. The USAID COMET project also aims to connect educational institutions to industry leaders in order to expand work‐based learning and internship programs and promote promoting in‐demand skills training opportunities for job seekers. The project will accomplish its goals through utilizing dynamic online learning platforms, therefore increasing the number of skilled workers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, accounting, and tourism (“STEM+AT”) in the Lower Mekong sub‐region.


From the right side: Ms. Sylvie Doutriaux – USAID COMET Contract Officer Representative, USAID Senior Regional Food Security Advisor; Mr. Suparb Pasong – Senior Institutionalization Specialist; Ms.Dorothy Lutz – Country Manager


According to Ms. Dorothy Lutz, the project's objective is to have 250,000 youth in the Lower Mekong sub-region (125,000 youth specifically in Vietnam) with qualified training skills to meet the market demand in the 5-year program. In addition, the project will also expand the 5 Mekong Learning Centre to a greater network of institutions across the Lower Mekong sub-region to support the youth work readiness. 


As one of the 12 Mekong Learning Centers in the USAID COMET Project, UD is considered a leading university with the capabilities to promote and strengthen cooperation between universities and industries. By joining this project, UD aims to emphasize the development of the IT Faculty at the University of Science & Technology.  Within the project's first year, five lead instructors had the opportunity to travel to Bangkok for specialized training on the MekongSkills2Work toolkits, a set of teaching methods that promote work readiness skills.  These five lead instructosr will take the lead in training peers, with the goal to train twenty additional faculty members in innovative teaching in the 2016-2017 academic year.


After expansion within the University of Science and Technology, UD is well positioned to expand the USAID COMET project model across the entire university system, including the campus in the Komtum highlands.


Meeting with leaders of University of Science and Technology on Oct 4th 2016


Class observation with Dr. Tran The Vu, Head of Academic Affairs office, VNUK Institute for research and executive education.

Visiting Axon Active office in Danang


At session of October 3rd 2016, on behalf of the UD, Ms. Ho Long Ngoc, M.A. – Vice Director of International Cooperation Department shared that: The objective of the UD 2020 is to become research-oriented university whose main role is to train high qualified workforces, striving to become a center of research and international cooperation in area of the Central Vietnam and Highlands.


From the left side: Ms. Ho Long Ngoc, M.A. – Vice Director of International Cooperation Department; Assoc. Prof. Vo Trung Hung – Director of R&D Department; Dr. Huynh Cong Phap – Vice Rector of IT College.


At the meering, Prof. Dr. Tran Van Nam emphasized that UD's core values include improving the quality of training, thereby increasing the ranking of the university. In recent years, UD has invested in strengthening industry connections to increase the rate of employment for students, a key project goal.


Reportedly, in the framework of the project, the toolkit MekongSkills2Work (MS2W) of USAID COMET has been applied into college members involved in the project, helping to narrow the gap between employers and job finders and ensure that the employment process is integrated into the educational process.


Prof Tran Van Nam offering souvernir to Mr. Michael Calvano

Group Photo

The University of Danang –