Ha Noi, 9 October 2020 – An inspirational talk has been held today in Hanoi highlighting key challenges and opportunities that Viet Nam faces in narrowing the digital gap. Organized ahead of the MOET-ASEAN-UNICEF conference on Digital Transformation of the Education System throughout ASEAN, the Reimagine TALK aims to explore ways in which parents can engage more effectively in the digital learning journey of their children and how teachers and caregivers can offer the scaffolding that children need to learn digitally.
“The move online brought a renewed urgency for digital learning, underscoring the country’s stark digital divide. School reopening in early May in Viet Nam served as a lightning rod to double down on efforts to reimagine education and to transform the system to ensure all children and young people in Viet Nam have access to digital learning and are prepared for an increasingly connected world and knowledge-driven economy”, said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Viet Nam Representative.
The East Asia and Pacific Region has the fastest growing internet penetration in the world. However, the requirement to move to online education due to the COVID- 19 pandemic has exposed the digital divide in the region, between the children who have access to digital learning opportunities and those who do not, most of them living in remote areas. Many students lack internet access, devices and adequate digital literacy, and teachers are largely unfamiliar with new technology and lack training to effectively utilize these new tools.
According to Dau Thuy Ha from Online Management Training Company (OMT), the recent assessment in 500 pre-schools in Viet Nam by KidsOnline showed a significant gap in readiness, digital skills, facilities, infrastructure and learning materials in ethnic minority languages, in pre-school education.
Speaking at the Reimagine TALK, Professor Hoang Tu Bao from the Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics (VIASM), said that digital and online training could help to bridge the geographic and learning gap for disadvantaged children, but much needs to be done to address the inequity in digital access.
Evidence points to the fact that young people in Viet Nam see digital literacy as important for their future but they don’t necessarily feel they have developed the right skillset in this area. Moreover, young people with disability, living in remote, mountainous areas and those from ethnic minority are not perceiving digital education equally as their peers.
Tran Ngoc Han of Edtech and TEKY Holdings, a young speaker at the Reimagine TALK highlighted the importance of involving the youth in shaping digital literacy and transferable skills within the education system. They face increasing demands from employers to have both digital and transferable skills for their future jobs.
Recognizing the importance of digital literacy and transferable skills for the future, UNICEF has been supporting the Government of Viet Nam to integrate digital literacy and transferable skills in the new curriculum and building knowledge and skills for teachers and school managers through virtual trainings on child-friendly approaches to online learning and online classroom management.
“I can state that we urgently need to reimagine education. A modern education should build and accredit basic skills – reading, writing and math – as well as skills in problem-solving, creativity and critical-thinking that young people need for work, to start a business and to engage productively in their communities”, Ms. Flowers concluded.