Bridging the digital divide requires new forms of education, training

VietNamNet Bridge – Though the internet has transformed Vietnamese society for the better, the ‘digital divide’, between different groups still needs addressed, according to experts.

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An IT class of grade 8 students at the Muong Te ethnic boarding school in the northern province of Lai Chau. Vietnam faces a challenge into the Industry 4.0 era, with a digital divide existing between different groups. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyet

“If you’re living in a poor or isolated area, or somewhere not in major city, you will be even more ‘segregated’ from the knowledge economy and e-society,” said Samia Melhem, Lead Policy Officer for Digital Development Community at World Bank, at the Viet Nam Internet Forum held yesterday in Hanoi.

Other delegates at the forum also shared concerns regarding the inequality in access or use of technology between different groups in society, at a time when the world is becoming increasingly connected.

Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam, Caitlin Wiesen said Vietnam’s high growth has been mostly inclusive, with several sustainable development goals met ahead of schedule.

However, the country faces a challenge in guiding the transition into the Industry 4.0 era in a sustainable manner and stopping the split between the haves and have-nots in terms of technology does not widen, with a focus on women, ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups.

The UNDP and Vietnamese Government have worked to identify key emerging issues, including creating new value chains to enable businesses to be more competitive and create decent jobs, and working out the new future of work, including education and training for new skillsets, according to the UNDP official.

Their collaboration also aims to develop new forms of governance to nurtures innovation and to ensure that no one will be left behind, Wiesen said.

Digital for good

Swedish ambassador to Viet Nam Pereric Hogberg said the two factors that contributed to Sweden’s transformation from a poor and backwards country in Europe into one of the world’s forefront country were openness and transparency.

“Wide usage of technology and internet have enabled Sweden to foster its culture of openness, access to information, innovation and entrepreneurship, resulting in its innovation, growth and prosperity as today,” he said.

Despite being a latecomer to the internet in 1997, in last 22 years Vietnam has been catching up in terms of mobile signal and internet coverage and speed.

Vietnam expects to pilot 5G technology soon with homegrown technology as a foundation of its attempts to build smart cities and e-Government said Nguyen Ngoc Ky, head of Ha Noi’s Information and Communications Department.

Panelists also discussed how the private sector could create positive changes in society while seizing the opportunities brought by the digital economy at a discussion themed ‘Digital for good’.

At the forum, Dao Ngoc Chien, deputy director for high technology department under the Ministry of Science and Technology, reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to promoting innovation and a robust start-up ecosystem.

Le Hoang Uyen Vy, General Partner of the ESP Capital, a venture capital company in Vietnam, said these recent efforts by the Vietnamese Government are “encouraging” and building investors’ confidence in the domestic start-up scene.

Vietnam’s internet economy reached value of US$8 billion in 2018, 3.3 per cent of the domestic GDP, significantly higher than the Southeast Asian region’s average of 2.8 per cent, making the country a destination for more investors from across the world, she said.

However, she said start-ups in Vietnam are mostly very small in scale and need help to scale up and receive funding from international venture funds.

Also yesterday at the forum, three Vietnamese start-ups were announced as finalists for the #Innovationforgood contest held by the Sweden embassy and Lund University.

Kindmate, a crowdfunding platform; SCDeaf, a start-up that provides sign language interpreters and 1516 Green Design, which builds solar power stations and wind turbine systems for the poor, were the lucky companies. 

Source: VNS

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