An inspirational talk was held in Hanoi on Friday, highlighting key challenges and opportunities that Vietnam 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 was aimed at exploring 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, UNICEF said in a press release.
“The move online brought a renewed urgency for digital learning, underscoring the country’s stark digital divide,” Rana Flowers, UNICEF Vietnam representative, was quoted as saying in the press release.
“School reopening in early May in Vietnam 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 Vietnam have access to digital learning and are prepared for an increasingly connected world and knowledge-driven economy.”
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, while teachers are largely unfamiliar with new technology and lacking in training to effectively utilize these new tools.
According to Dau Thuy Ha from Online Management Training Company, a recent assessment at 500 preschools in Vietnam by KidsOnline showed a significant gap in readiness, digital skills, facilities, infrastructure, and learning materials in ethnic minority languages in preschool education.
Speaking at the Reimagine TALK, Professor Hoang Tu Bao from the Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics, 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 Vietnam see digital literacy as important for their future but they do not necessarily feel they have developed the right skill set in this area.
Moreover, young people with disability, living in remote, mountainous areas, and those from ethnic minorities 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.
Employers are demanding that the young have both digital and transferable skills for their jobs.
Recognizing the significance of digital literacy and transferable skills for the future, UNICEF has been supporting the government of Vietnam to integrate both in the new curriculum and in building knowledge and skills for teachers and school managers through virtual training 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,” Flowers concluded.