The Rise of Remote Education in Southeast Asia Against COVID-19

Schools are off, yet education must go on!

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many governments have had to impose a complete closure of all educational institutions and turn to home-based learning. The transformation from traditional classrooms to online education has become an inevitable part of the comprehensive precautionary measures all around the world. Southeast Asia, which is so far home to over a million COVID-19 cases, was no exception. Students of Southeast Asian countries found themselves, overnight, with no option but remote education through the available online tools.

But, are Southeast Asia’s countries ready for this radical change? Many students don’t have stable access to the internet; some others do not even have any adequate electronic devices, let alone the required technical skills.

The shift toward e-learning represented a major challenge in the face of Southeast Asian authorities, especially with those already struggling educational systems. In fact, the pandemic virus forced a sudden shift neither governments nor tutors and students were prepared for.

The provision of sufficient education, however, remains a high priority for every Southeast Asian government, even with today’s exceptional circumstances and “untact” world. Read on to learn more about the hindering hurdles that Southeast Asian countries encounter as well as the strategic plans they adopt to overcome these challenges on both basic and higher education levels.

Impeding barriers

The unforeseen move to virtual learning due to COVID-19 touched upon real problems in the Southeast Asian states’ communication systems. Now that students are no longer offered physical communication with their teachers, the governmental educational authorities are obligated to provide accessible alternatives to contain the crisis and avoid further implications. During this journey, governments should get over the following hurdling road bumps.

  1. Absence of eligible digital infrastructure

By May 2020, only four Southeast Asian countries recorded an internet penetration rate of more than 80%, namely: Brunei, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia. People in rural areas lack stable internet access and thus, adequate online educational resources. The so-called digital divide remains a pressing challenge facing both students and educators in several Southeast Asian countries.

Even worse, some people do not have advanced digital devices, This was clearly evidenced by the increasing demand over computers and laptops across e-commerce sites and online shopping platforms amid COVID-19 crisis. Malaysian e-commerce company iPrice Group reported that computer equipment and gadgets like webcams and keyboards witnessed higher demand all across the region as of April 2020, according to The ASEAN Post.

  1. Lack of technical skills 

One other significant problem is the lack of required experience and skills of online education systems for tutors and students alike. Unlike the developed countries, some educational institutions in Southeast Asia have never enacted online educational systems before the pandemic. This necessitates a thorough training to raise the learning process participants’ awareness of the new innovative approaches.

  1. Unfair wealth distribution

Above all else, the gaps between financial classes in Southeast Asian countries result in an inequality in the delivery of professional remote education. A huge percentage of Southeast Asian citizens are living in grinding poverty. Despite other promising figures, a report by the Asean-China-UNDP in 2017 showed that the Philippines and Indonesia accounts for 90% of the 36 million ASEAN residents who live below the international poverty line. Another report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in the same year found that around 65 million people of the region’s residents live without electricity.

Progressive reactions

Having said that, Southeast Asia is still considered one of the world’s fastest growing regions in terms of economic development. Governments work by leaps and bounds to enhance their basic infrastructure and public facilities. The field of remote education comes atop their priorities lists; A study by Ken Research expected Asia-Pacific’s online tutoring market to achieve higher growth rate between 2018 and 2025.

Southeast Asian governments, however, still have a long way to go. Potential partnerships with technology service providers is one possible solution to the schooling shutdown problem. The provision of sufficient digital infrastructure and internet connectivity also marks a significant step forward in the fight against COVID-19 negative impacts.

Many of the region’s countries are seen to start adopting advanced learning management systems (LMS), in line with current technology advancements and unprecedented increases in mobile usage and internet penetration numbers. This ranged widely from the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions all the way to the incorporation of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and learning gamification concepts.

The following are some examples of e-learning applications that made marked success as students stay home:

  1. HarukaEDU – Indonesia: An effective online learning platform that works collaboratively with multiple universities and corporations in Indonesia and provides extensive educational programs as well as free online courses.
  2. XSEED Education -Singapore: An outstanding e-learning software that integrates with over 3000 schools nationwide and runs comprehensive and integrative teaching and learning programs. 
  3. VNPT E-Learning – Vietnam: A smart digital learning solution that boasts innovative learning features and study modules. The platform, that allows the easy conduction of online training, recorded 100,000 hourly visitors in April.

SEAtongue could be of help!

As shown, Southeast Asia looks like a fertile market for online education investments from all around the globe. The rising demand over compelling and efficient e-learning solutions sounds like a golden opportunity for online learning businesses. SEAtongue is an ISO 17100-certified language service provider with an extensive track record of successful e-learning localization projects. With offices in Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, we offer you a wide range of high-quality and cost-effective language solutions at your fingertips. Contact us today and let us bridge your way into a world of lucrative opportunities into the Southeast Asian markets.

Get in touch with us now!