Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha requests UNICEF’s support in distance learning

UNICEF is committed to supporting Vietnam's education in response to COVID-19

Thùy Linh - giaoduc.net.vn
Minister Phùng Xuân Nhạ during the virtual online meeting with the Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam
Photo: moet.gov.vn
21 April 2020

(GDVN) – On 17 April 2020, Minister of Education and Training Phùng Xuân Nhạ hold an online meeting with the Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam to discuss UNICEF’s assistance and areas of collaboration with MOET.

Minister Phung Xuan Nha hold an online meeting with Ms. Rana Flowers, Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam, on UNICEF’s assistance and areas of collaboration with the Vietnamese education sector in prevention and response to COVID-19, mitigating the impacts of climate change on children and promoting digital education. With regards to activities implemented by the education sector to fight against COVID-19, Minister Phung Xuan Nha emphasized that ensuring safety for students is the first priority. Therefore, all schools were closed, MOET has implemented distance learning online and on television. With this proactive and flexible approach, distance learning has proved to be effective in the early stage, not only in managing students during social distancing but also ensuring “continuing learning despite school closure”. Although teaching on the internet and television is a temporary measure in the context of COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Nha emphasized that the education sector would take this opportunity to accelerate the digital transition.

At the moment, MOET has been working to finalize the guideline on online teaching and learning for teachers and parents in the format of video clips. Minister Nha would like to receive UNICEF’s support to MOET during the development and finalization of this guideline.

In addition, Minister Phung Xuan Nha also requested UNICEF’s support to enrich and improve the resources of teaching and learning materials for television education. Teaching on television has proved to be very effective, particularly for students from remote and disadvantaged areas where internet connection is not available and online teaching tools remain limited.

In the long term, Minister Nha emphasized the need to develop the regulation to officially recognize the results of internet and television teaching and learning for preschool and secondary education levels. In order do have this regulation in place, it is important to conduct a review survey and develop a standard teaching framework and draw lessons learnt from that.

“This is a very important policy, such a regulation if we can develop will be a breakthrough and lay the solid foundation for the digital transition in education” – said Minister Phung Xuan Nha. He also requested UNICEF’s assistance to Viet Nam in the development of that regulation.

In order to prepare for students’ return to school after the long break from the pandemic, the Minister said that the MOET has been developing a set of safe school criteria, which provides specific guidance with 3 key moments: student’s entry at the school gate, student studying at school and after leaving the school. The criteria will be calculated to ensure maximum safety for students and enable localities to implement consistently. The Minister hopes that UNICEF, with its experience and available resources, will cooperate and fund the process of finalizing this set of criteria.

“Efforts by the Vietnamese education sector in prevention and response to COVID-19 set great examples for many other countries”

Showing great agreement with Minister Phung Xuan Nha’s proposal, Ms. Rana Flowers expressed high appreciation of the tremendous efforts and determination of the Vietnamese Government and the Ministry of Education and Training in the fight against COVID-19 in order to protect people’s health.

One of the highlights includes bold decision by MOET to implement distance learning to ensure continuing learning of students right from the early stage of the outbreak.

“Efforts by the Vietnamese education sector in prevention and response to COVID-19 set great examples for many other countries”, said the Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam.

Ms. Rana mentioned that UNICEF already secured US$800,000 for the COVID-19 education response for national and provincial support, including US$400,000 for WASH in school supplies (also for Mekong Delta). Ms. Rana also affirmed UNICEF’s willingness to support MOET in calling for other non-refundable grants.

Supporting Minister Nha’s attitude to “turn challenges in internet and television learning and teaching in this pandemic into digital transition opportunities”, Ms. Rana Flowers affirmed that UNICEF would support Viet Nam to take the lead in this “opportunity”. At present, UNICEF has been proactively worked with technology companies in order to provide free of charge learning solutions for Vietnamese students, promoting digital foundation to support distance learning not only in times of pandemic but also in medium and long terms.

In order to ensure equal access to digital technology for all Vietnamese children and students, UNICEF has been in discussion with the Youth Union and other partners to organize classes on digital knowledge and skills for students, particularly children from disadvantages areas. In addition, refresh learning programmes will also be organized to bridge the gaps in knowledge and skills for students due to COVID-19 pandemic.

With agreement to support MOET to develop the safe school criteria set when children go back to school, the Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam also expressed commitment to support with WASH supplies to ensure clean water for schools in Viet Nam without running water.

“In these situations, UNICEF will also connect with other organizations to ensure the best conditions possible for children,” Ms. Rana Flowers emphasized.

The two sides also discussed and agreed on other areas of collaboration including mitigating the impacts of climate change and air pollution on children, reducing drowning of Vietnamese children as well as the preparation for the MOET-lead ASEAN event on Digital Literacy and Transferable Skills in late 2020 and support to cities and provinces to implement technology based initiatives in 2021.

At the end of the meeting, Minister Phung Xuan Nha and the Representative of UNICEF in Viet Nam agreed to collaborate and assist in 3 thematic areas with 9 specific activities.