Nguyen Kim Son, Minister of Education and Training, has emphasized the importance of reopening schools, adding that the country now has the necessary circumstances.
He told the media on January 25 that safely responding to the pandemic and progressively reopening schools was critical for educational activities to go back to normal.
According to him, the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) has collaborated with the Health Ministry to release guidelines on pandemic safety for students once in-person learning is restored, in accordance with the Government’s directives on safe and dynamic adaptation to and effective management and control of COVID-19.
As a mandatory reaction to the pandemic, online education have been used on a massive scale during the previous two years. However, regional inequalities in communication infrastructure and economic situations have resulted in a significant disparity in educational access. Son recognized that students, particularly preschool and primary school students, in less developed, hilly, and insular locations have faced challenges in this regard.
Faced with this reality, numerous remedies have been proposed. Localities, corporations, organizations, and people have given school supplies and improved Internet access as part of a Prime Minister-launched campaign to aid with online learning. According to the minister, thousands of laptops and smart phones have already been distributed to impoverished children.
He believed that the pandemic had boosted IT utilization in the education sector, which had a significant impact on the basic and comprehensive transformation of education and training.
Delay in reopening schools may affect educational quality
In highlighting the importance of reopening school, the official stated that extended virtual learning may have severe effects on educational quality as well as the physical and emotional health of instructors, pupils, and other individuals.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has a high immunization rate in the community, especially children aged 12 to 18, and has gained significant expertise in disease prevention and management. It now has enough grounds, expertise, and circumstances to actively advocate for reopening schools.
Son went on to say that this is about more than only reopening schools, but also about strengthening and rebuilding education.
The MoET has also urged municipalities to develop strategies for consolidating information for pupils when in-person instruction is resumed, he added, adding that the consolidation will take several years rather than just one.
Deputy Minister Ngo Thi Minh stated at a conference in Hanoi on January 24 that 14 areas nationally have reinstated in-person learning, 30 others have blended online and offline learning, and 19 others have delivered classes online or via television. As planned, 35 additional communities will reopen their schools on February 7, increasing the total to 49, while 14 more will do so on February 12.
Experts warn about possible consequences if reopening schools is extended
Many analysts believe that most regions around the country are going to restart in-person learning after the Lunar New Year vacation, which is an essential step to prevent the ramifications of protracted school closures, which would harm an entire generation for decades to come.
According to Simone Vis, Chief of Education at UNICEF Vietnam, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused global learning disruptions, resulting in the largest educational catastrophe in history. Not only have the pandemic and school closures hurt children’s health and emotional safety, increased domestic violence and child labor, but they have also had a significant impact on pupils’ learning.
She stated that it is apparent that children have learned less as a result of the pandemic. This lack of knowledge might cost a generation of global students to lose 17 trillion USD in earnings during their lifetime.
To minimize long-term consequences, she suggested that Vietnam focus on dealing with such losses, noting that UNICEF will collaborate with the Ministry of Education and Training to implement a learning recovery plan aimed at ensuring that children and teenagers can attend school and attain a learning capacity level at least equal to that of pre-pandemic generations.
UNICEF also advised schools to devote a significant amount of time to social interactions and socio-emotional learning for their children.
Dr. Hoang Trung Hoc, head of the psychology and education department at the National Academy of Education Management, cited a research study of over 20,000 students nationwide after 6 months of online distance learning that revealed 65.1 percent of them have stress symptoms ranging from mild to moderate, to severe to very severe.
He believed that allowing pupils to return to school as soon as possible was an appropriate option, but that schools should spend the first week assisting students in adapting and dealing with emotional and behavioral concerns.