By Nga Dao | January 5, 2022, 8.00pm SGT
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented impacts on education and children worldwide, including Vietnam. While an estimated 4.4 million Vietnamese preschool children saw their learning interrupted, about 22 million local students have had to switch to online learning in 40 out of 63 provinces and cities across the country.
Although the pandemic has created a lot of challenges for students and teachers, it has also brought about huge opportunities for innovation and digitalization of the education sector as well as development of the EdTech market in Vietnam.
Education is identified as one of eight priority sectors under the Government’s national digital transformation program to 2025 with orientation to 2030, which considers development of online learning platforms and policies to encourage investment in education as the key task and solution to digital transformation. In line with this agenda, in 2021 the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 1373/QD-TTg, approving the project “Building a society of learning in the 2021-2030 period” which sets the goal for Vietnam to have 70% of universities to deploy digital universities and build digital learning materials by 2025; and 70% of community learning centers to apply information technology in management, organization of educational activities. Very recently, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has also signed off a five-year program on digital transformation of vocational training, which is aimed at rolling out vocational training activities in the digital environment and strengthening the application of information technology in vocational training, thus improving Vietnam’s human resources quality and labor productivity.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has accelerated efforts to boost ICT application in the education sector and bring technology and educators together. Such efforts can be seen through the issuance of several regulations such as Decision 4003 in October 2020, guiding the ICT application in implementation of the government’s digital transformation agenda and Circular 09 in March 2021, officially approving online schooling. MOET has also created a section on supporting online teaching on the ministry’s information portal and joined the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in launching the program ‘Internet and computers for students’, calling for donations of online learning facilities for students in disadvantaged regions.
The increase of demand for online learning has also boosted Vietnam’s education technology market. According to media report, the country’s EdTech market is now potentially worth $3 billion, up from about $2 billion in 2019. Vietnam – home to around 200 EdTech startups – is also in the top five countries receiving investments in educational technology. With the Government’s supportive policies and initiatives for both EdTech and startups, there’s no doubt that this market will continue to thrive.
However, there remain several issues facing educators, education managers as well as EdTech developers. These include, for example, curriculum transition from conventional face-to-face classroom delivery to online education; the broadly low-level perception of the value of online education; the lack of solutions for effective engagement and management of students in online learning, as well as tools for greater quality assurance of online education. During the pandemic, these challenges can be turned into opportunities for further innovation and development of both education and EdTech sectors.
 As reflected in a number of documents such as Resolution No. 17/NQ-CP of March 7, 2019 on key tasks and solutions to develop e-government; theDigital Vietnamese Knowledge System project which was launched in January 2018 to facilitate knowledge-sharing on an open platform; Decision 117/QD-TTgdated 25 January 2017 approving the project on strengthening ICT application in management and support to teaching and learning activities in the period of 2016-2020, with a vision to 2025