The recent pandemic (Covid-19) has impacted education systems in universities around the world. The impact has been dramatic for institutions, academics, and students looking for workable short term solutions for online teaching and learning. The unique challenge facing higher education encouraged DEN to look for opportunities to stay in contact with students using online facilities. Through the academic initiative, we invited students to meet and organise feasible and appropriate projects at this time. Using Inside Westminster we have agreed that students will write an article and or provide a 5 minutes video of their reflection and experience of Covid-19. We have encouraged students from all over the world to express their stories and share them with each other, hoping that this would provide a channel not only to learn but also to engage with each other. Hence, the following articles in this section are students’ reflections/experiences of Covid-19.
While coronavirus has hit the world intensively for months, Vietnam has remarkably taken over the pandemic and seen no cases of infection for 99 days and zero deaths. The early success comes as the result of timely proactive measures Vietnam planned and enforced since the moment when there were only two cases of coronavirus in Wuhan. Thanks to the strong Vietnamese government and public authorities’ efforts with drastic action for fighting against coronavirus, Vietnam at the first steps contained the pandemic effectively. The measures and the spirit Vietnam implemented towards COVID-19 seems to be magical but applicable to other countries. Some of these measures include:
Taking coronavirus seriously from the very first period of time, Vietnam’s Prime Minister released a statement declaring coronavirus a pandemic when there were only 6 confirmed cases in Vietnam. Besides, the Vietnam Communist Party brought forward guidelines and authorities enforced travel and transport restriction, equipped strict health check at borders and vulnerable areas, controlled international flight entering the territory and closed borders to neighbouring countries. Disease traceability is conducted to help public functional forces and facilitate the process of seeking the infected people moving freely, so as to put them in quarantine as an efficient way of taking over coronavirus strictly.
Moreover, Vietnam’s government did really well in communicating with its citizens to keep them informed and get them involved in the fight against the pandemic with the Party, government and authorities. Of course, Vietnamese people gave their huge trust in Vietnam’s Communist Party and its government because they see the government did absolutely right and effectively. The government also raised people’s spirits during the epidemic through text messages sent to all phones with a motto “fighting the epidemic is like fighting against the enemy”, adding the prevention statement “stay at home” on the screens of all mobile phones used across the country. People wear masks in public areas such as classrooms, small shops, on public vehicles, markets even as soon as they step out of the door, follow other protection methods like hand-washing, staying 2 meters in distance with another, etc.
Like other Asian countries, Vietnam implemented social distancing quite early and carried out the world largest isolation campaigns for anyone who enters Vietnam from abroad, isolating infected people at once and putting them in quarantine for at least 14 days with full basic need provision run and funded by the government. Any hot spots of community infection are put in lockdown immediately. In addition, all costs of proactive measures including quarantine, lockdown and medical costs are funded totally by the government.
Due to complicated coronavirus, Vietnam timely carried on distance-learning in education. Indeed, online education was already planned even available in education for long, but face-to-face learning is still more fundamental and popular in Vietnam. With COVID-19, all educational systems, from compulsory schools to universities, designed online courses for students to adapt to the pandemic and catch up with the annual syllabus. TV broadcasted teachers giving live lectures through TV screens, which were convenient for students to watch. Universities provided training for teachers and students for distance learning.
As students of Hanoi University- specialised in foreign language-related fields, we lived the new experience of staying at home and seeing teachers through computer screens. Actually, distance learning brought students a mass of advantages. Self-studying taught us how to be independent and responsible for the knowledge we gain without teachers’ supervision. On the other hand, online learning helps students manage time better for studying while we don’t have to waste time to commute nor stay at school the whole day. Online learning saves time but it unintentionally impels students to read books more and more which means we spend more time and patience for thinking and brainstorming instead of relying on teachers’ thought. Online learning also satisfies the thirst for endless sources of knowledge on websites for students to keep ourselves updated at once. COVID-19 obviously forced Vietnamese education to change, catch up with modern technology and develop distance-learning convenient for everyone at every time and everywhere. Beside some remaining cons of online learning such as inaccessible or weak internet or unaffordable devices, university students learned a lot including self-brainstorming, technical skills by approaching high-tech devices for digital learning, reading and computing skills, etc.
Although Vietnam is still a small so-called developing country with limited resources, its Communist Party, its government sacrificed for the whole society’s benefits regardless of its difficulties. Because Vietnam has a culture of sacrificing self for the common since history, humanity, kindness and enormous compassion to human. We as Vietnamese have courage and kindness, humanity and solidarity, and we are ready to sacrifice short-term benefits for long-term ones. That is the key element of our success in fighting dangerous diseases, not only COVID-19. We are ready together as the entire country to confront hardships and dangers ahead and that makes magic. Actually COVID-19 has not disappeared in the world yet which means the fact that coronavirus comes back to Vietnam is not an exception. No matter how complicated and unpredictable COVID-19 is, the whole world in general and Vietnam, in particular, must always take it seriously at first, act quickly with proactive measures as Vietnam implements to fight against the pandemic.
By: Vu Khanh Phuong- International Studies- Hanoi University- Hanoi- Vietnam