Education Ministry, Viettel extend school Internet project

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All education and training institutions in Vietnam with access to electricity have free access to the Internet, and this is a singular achievement, says Quach Tuan Ngoc, head of the Ministry of Education and Training's Information and Technology Department.

Ngoc made the statement on December 18 at a conference in Hanoi where the ministry and the military-run telecom group Viettel reviewed their joint two-year Internet connection for education program.

"The result means that Vietnam is one of few countries in the world where all schools have access to Internet," Ngoc said.

He added that the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) had last month praised Vietnam's IT developments in the education and training sector.

The country has come a long way since a report released in 2008 placed Vietnam alongside Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in the group with the least developed IT sectors.

The joint program, launched by Ministry of Education and Training and Viettel in September 2008, has provided Internet services to nearly 29,600 education institutions nationwide. Of these, over 21,000 are now connected to broadband internet through leased line technology, ADSL and third generation technology.

Under the program, Viettel has provided preferential Internet and mobile phone services to teachers and students.

Ngoc said Internet access had helped narrow the gap between urban and rural areas.

Chairman of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, Phan Hong, said the connections have helped teachers improve their teaching methods and made students more active learners.

Viettel deputy director Nguyen Manh Hung said the program focused on kindergartens, primary, secondary and high schools and universities as well as educational management units.

Pham Vu Luan, Minister of Education and Training, called on the sector to be more active and creative to further develop the program.

"We hope that enterprises, organizations and individuals will continue to develop IT applications in the sector," Luan said.

During the two-day conference, the ministry and Viettel signed an agreement in which they pledged to carry on with the program.

The two sides agreed that they would invest more in equipment, e-books and e-learning.

It is estimated that more than 25 million teachers and students have access to the Internet in Vietnam.

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