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Austrade regional market update on the impact of COVID-19 (as at 4 August 2020)

04 Aug 2020

Austrade will provide weekly regional updates on the progression and impact of COVID-19 around the world, to support the international education sector as the situation continues to evolve. These reports are compiled using the latest on-the-ground information and advice. The following updates include markets and regions for:

  • ASEAN
  • Europe
  • Middle East and Africa
  • North Asia
  • North America
  • South Asia

ASEAN

Indonesia

  • Telkomsel, a subsidiary of Telkom group (state owned telco), has launched an internet e-learning package to support students during COVID-19. The new package will provide 10 GB internet data for only IDR 10 (less than one cent), and can be used to access 10 edtech companies (Quipper, Zenius, Udemy, Cakap, Bahaso, Sekolah.mu, Ganeca Digital, Kipin School 4.0, Ayoblajar, and Aminin) and e-learning platforms from 245 universities and schools across Indonesia. The package is available from July 24 until September 30, 2020.

Malaysia

  • National Digital Infrastructure Laboratory (IDN Lab) commenced on July 13 with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) as its facilitator. MCMC further advised that IDN Lab, the nation’s aspirations concerning broadband coverage and services particularly in the rural area and the digital infrastructure roadmap would be finalised by mid-August. Rural coverage in particular has been a key concern of the Ministry of Education considering majority 23 per cent (1.3 million students) across Malaysia do not have internet access. Indeed, the reopening of schools during the recovery movement control order (RMCO) period (until Aug 31) reflects the government’s concern over students in the rural areas who have limited broadband service and thus ability to learn online.
  • Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in East Malaysia, the reopening of primary and secondary schools has been postponed by a further two weeks to mid-August in certain districts in Sarawak. There has also been a slow uptick in cases in the peninsula. The Malaysian government has warned of a renewed lockdown if numbers continues to increase.
  • During the recent National Education Summit (28 July), the Malaysian Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education, along with the respective Sabah and Sarawak education departments, reiterated the government’s priorities:
    • Improve English proficiency in teachers across Malaysia
    • Ease regulations; recognise the private education sector as a key contributor to Malaysia’s economy and larger education goals (as outlined in the ‘Way Forward For Private Higher Education Institutions: Education As An Industry (2020-2025)’
    • Ensure graduates in Malaysia are industry relevant, industry 4.0 including digital literacy and 21st century skills across education levels
  • After receiving feedback from students, parents, and relevant stakeholders, the Higher Education Minister announced up to 15 per cent discount for hostel accommodation, administrative and activity fees for students in their second semester of their 2019/2020 academic session, in public higher learning institutions. The discount involves a total allocation of RM72mil (~AUD 23.6 million). While this will benefit some 525,000 students in public universities nationwide, private higher education institutions will not look to follow suit.

Myanmar

  • The Ministry of Health and Sports (MoHS) amended its instructions regarding the ban on mass gatherings yesterday, which will restrict gatherings to less than 15 people.
  • The MoHS also mentioned that due to the continuing need to control the spread of COVID-19 in the country, restrictions will be extended until 15 August, including mandatory wearing of masks and daily curfew.
  • The notice issued from the Department of Civil Aviation and National Central Committee for Prevention, Control, and Treatment also stated that the international commercial flights remain suspended until 31 August.
  • Although high schools were instructed to reopen on 21 July, only 3772 high schools which received rank A regarding COVID-19 preventive measures were able to reopen on that day. The Ministry of Education announced on 21 July that there were 1220 high schools with rank B and 838 high schools with rank C across the country.
  • Austrade Myanmar will host a Myanmar Agent/Institution webinar on 7 August. The webinar aims to: update the agents and institutions in-country of the current global education market, Myanmar’s position in the market, and visa and immigration issues. Register.

Philippines

  • With the Philippine School Year 2020-21 starting 24 August, the Department of Education (DepEd) has been conducting online learning activities for teachers and parents. A learning activity tailored for parents is streamed live every week to work with parents on protecting their children’s health, safety and well-being. DepEd partnered with Save the Children to prepare the modules, while Globe Telecom has been providing resource speakers. DepEd has also made available psychology support modules and training for schoolteachers, school administrators and non-teaching personnel. With the switch to distance learning, two of the key elements most in need in the Philippines are simplified training content for parents and updated methodology for teachers.
  • In a recent DepEd survey, 8.8 million parents indicated that they prefer education through printed or digital modules instead of online and other distance learning modalities (3 million opted for online learning). Almost 4 million chose a blended approach, 1.4 million chose education via television and less than a million preferred radio-based instruction. Half of the households reported that they do not have access to internet (6.3 million). Each region and school has used this data to design its learning continuity plan and mode of teaching delivery. This presents opportunities for Australia to share best practice in distance learning to the national body (DepEd), the region, or directly to schools.
  • With the disruption of COVID-19, companies have had to reimagine their mode of operations, transition staff away from redundant functions and reskill their workforce. This has led to an increase in demand for professional development training and micro-courses.
  • As of 31 July 2020, the Philippines has 85,386 positive cases of COVID-19.

Singapore

  • Nil

Thailand

  • According to the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) report, published on 28 July, Thailand ranks first amongst countries with the highest COVID-19 recovery index. The report states that Thailand has made the most progress in curtailing the spread of the pandemic. The next ranked countries after Thailand are South Korea, Latvia, Malaysia and Taiwan respectively.
  • The Thai government has cancelled the annual OCSC International Education Expo scheduled in November due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. The Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC) Expo is the largest study abroad event held in Thailand each year. Instead, OCSC plans to organise virtual interview program sessions, inviting university representatives from major study destinations including Australia to provide course counselling for prospective Thai government scholarship students.
  • Austrade Bangkok will host a “Student Visa Update” webinar for education agents in Thailand and Laos on Thursday 13 August. The webinar will provide the latest updates international student updates and respond to enquiries about student visa changes announced by the Australian Government recently.
  • Amongst several Thai universities offering free online learning courses during COVID-19 pandemic, Chulalongkorn University has become a leading provider having delivered more than 80 courses during March-July 2020. The university launched its online short courses website portal “Chula MOOC” (Massive Open Online Courses) in March 2020 to offer free professional development courses online for their students and members of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courses offered cover five areas: Language, IT/Data/Technology, Management, Art & Self Development and Health. More information visit https://mooc.chula.ac.th/

Vietnam

  • After 99 days without any cases of community transmission, Vietnam recently confirmed new cases in Da Nang. As of 31 July, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 509 cases of COVID-19, in which 369 of the affected patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. The latest 45 cases were all linked to hospitals in Da Nang.
  • As a result, Da Nang City authorities have announced 15 days of social distancing measures from 28 July. Non-essential businesses such as bars and nightclubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have also been closed since 30 July until further notice. Gatherings of more than 30 people are banned.
  • Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners from March 22 until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure will not apply to diplomats, officials, foreign investors, experts, and skilled workers.

Europe

  • Some European countries are experiencing second waves of coronavirus cases, however the outbreaks are mostly confined to specific areas and are not at the levels seen during the peak of the outbreak earlier this year.

Spain

  • President Sánchez presented a plan endowed with 1,500 million euros to bring Vocational Training up to modern standards. The plan, through public-private collaboration, focuses its actions on 11 strategic areas and aims to guarantee professional training and qualifications that facilitate integration and permanence in the labour market.
  • According to statistics published by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, the number of students enrolled in vocational training courses rose by 19.8 percent in the 2018-2019 academic year.
  • In Spain the unemployment rate for young people with a VET degree is below average, however despite this, Spain has a lower proportion of enrolments in vocational training programs compared to other OECD countries.

UK

  • According to a recent report by think-tank Onward, UK reliance on Chinese students, who make up 36 per cent of the £5.8 billion in fees for all international students, was ’becoming a major problem’ in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow rely on students from China for 28 per cent of fee income. For Imperial, UCL and Manchester the figure is 26 per cent, and at the Royal College of Art it is 37 per cent.

Kazakstan

  • Despite uncertain times due to the pandemic and ongoing travel restrictions, the Kazakhstan Government announced the opening of applications for their flagship “Bolashak” study abroad scholarship program. Applications are open between 27 July and 31 October 2020 for eligible applicants seeking Masters, PhD or internship programs overseas. The Group of Eight Universities are on the approved list of education providers. Interested institutions may target local students via online fairs, including those offered by international organiser Begin Group, or via their partner agents.

Middle East and Africa

  • Nil report.

North Asia

China

  • China Education Online (www.eol.cn) recently released a report on Sino-Foreign joint programs and institutes operated by double first-class universities at the undergraduate level. By the end of 2019, the top five provinces with the most Sino-Foreign joint programs/institutes were Jiangsu, Beijing, Henan, Shanghai and Heilongjiang. “4+0” and “3+1” models accounted for nearly 80 per cent of joint programs and the US, UK and Australia comprised the top three countries involved in joint program activity. According to the report, three Sino-Australian joint institutes were approved from the beginning of 2019 until June 2020, and two joint programs were approved in 2019. Please refer to the EOL website for the full report (Chinese language only).
  • According to the Ministry of Education (MoE), an increasing number of Chinese students are undertaking domestic postgraduate degrees. As of 2020, more than 10 million students in China had obtained master’s or doctoral degrees from domestic higher education institutions, and more than 3 million students will be pursuing their postgraduate studies this year in domestic universities or research institutes. The number of Chinese students with doctoral degrees from domestic universities or research institutes surpassed that of South Korea in 1996, India in 2000, the United Kingdom and Japan in 2002 and Germany in 2005.

Korea

  • Lessons learned from online learning experience during COVID-19, Korean demand for edtech is growing and government will invest KRW 1.3 trillion (AUD 1.5 billion) to digitalise Korea’s education infrastructure and contents by 2025. According to Korea Education & Research Information Service (KERIS), the three types of Korean universities’ online learnings since COVID-19 outbreaks were video calls using Zoom, Google, Webex (50 per cent), lecture contents using learning management systems (30 per cent) and assignments using email & SNS (20 per cent). However the issues with quality of online contents, server and copy rights were major bottlenecks to effective online learning and edtech companies such as Vrew, AI-based video editing company are gaining popularity. According to EdTechX Global, Korea’s edtech market size in 2019 was KRW 4.0 tillion (AUD 4.6 billion) which is predicted to grow substantially in the next 3 years.

Mongolia

  • Due to COVID-19 outbreak, Mongolia’s schools and kindergartens since 24 January, and universities, higher education institutions and vocational schools since 26 January have been closed countywide. At the State Emergency Commission's meeting convened the Commission members discussed whether to restart operations of all levels of educational institutions for the upcoming academic year beginning from September 1, and gave a directive to re-develop some arrangements for reopening the institutions.

Latin America

Argentina

  • According to the Ministry of Health, as at 31 July the total number of confirmed cases in Argentina is 185,373 with 3,466 deaths.
  • The Ministry of Education and the National Bank of Argentina, with the support of the Ministry of Productive Development, launched a new line of credits to increase access to computers (long term plans, below market rate). The objective of these credits is to bridge the digital gap providing teachers with the essential tools under the pandemic context.
  • The National Evaluation of the Pedagogical Continuity Process revealed that 95 per cent of households received pedagogical proposals from the school in the period of social isolation. 85 per cent of the families surveyed stated that they value the work that the school is doing at the moment to accompany the children and only 19 per cent expressed that they had not been able to help them well due to their jobs’ demands. 9 out of 10 adults who granted the pedagogical continuity were women.

Mexico

  • Mexico reached 424,637 infected persons and 46,688 deceased by end of July. Mexico is the third worst in terms of death rate after the USA and Brazil.
  • On 27 July, the Government of the state of Michoacan announced that face-to-face classes for basic education will not resume until January 2021. Regarding the return to school the States of Puebla, Campeche, Sonora, Tabasco, Zacatecas and Morelos all have declared themselves in favour of beginning the school year (2020-2021) with virtual classes; so far Michoacán is the only state who has ordered virtual classes for the rest of 2020.
  • On 22 July, Minister of Public Education, Esteban Moctezuma, said academic activities for the upcoming school year will have a hybrid model with face-to-face and virtual classes combined. More details will be announced in August.
  • Mexico’s economy showed a setback for the fifth consecutive quarter, and an annual negative growth of 18.9 per cent according to the National institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI in Spanish).

Brazil

  • On Saturday 1 August, official figures from the Ministry of Health reported 2,707,877 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Brazil, with 1,865,729 recovered cases and 93,563 deaths.
  • Due to the high infection rates, schools remain closed and local governments will likely determine when schools reopen on a case-by-case basis. The state of Sao Paulo has announced plans to resume in-person classes on 8 September.
  • Keeping students learning under imposes challenges to education never seen in Brazil. In order to avoid a higher dropout rate in public schools since the suspension of in-person classes, the NGO Ensina Brasil – supported by Lemann Foundation – developed an initiative, which involves teachers calling their students at home during the pandemic period, to stimulate learning and maintain pupil-professor contact. The aim is to have all 40 million Brazilian public school students receiving a phone call from their teacher.

Chile

  • On 2 August, official figures from the Ministry of Health report 2,081 confirmed new cases of COVID-19 in Chile, increasing the total number of cases to 359,731, with a total number of deaths of 9,608. Santiago is already lifting some areas (Vitacura, Las Condes, Lo Barnechea, La Reina and Nunoa), allowing people to go outside during the week. It is expected that 2 other big areas of Santiago, Providencia and Santiago Centro will also lift the lockdown mode during this week.
  • The north of Chile (Antofagasta Region) is still the center of the pandemic, with cases rising.

Peru

  • Peru’s state of emergency has been extended until 31 August 2020.
  • The national curfew remains 10pm to 4am Monday to Sunday. Masks are compulsory in public. International borders are still closed.
  • A stricter curfew applies in the departments of Arequipa, Ica, Junín, Huánuco, San Martin and in the provinces of Tambopata (department of Madre de Dios), Santa, Casma and Huaraz (department of Ancash), Mariscal, Nieto and Ilo (department of Moquegua), Tacna (department of Tacna), Cusco and the Convention (department of Cusco), San Román and Puno (department of Puno), Huancavelica (department of Huancavelica), Cajamarca, Jaén and San Ignacio (department of Cajamarca), Bagua, Condorcanqui and Utcubamba (department of Amazonas), and Abancay and Andahuaylas (department of Apurímac Madre de Dios).
  • On 21 August, registration will begin for the national Women in Science Scholarship contest. There are 150 scholarships aimed at high-achieving academic students who are studying fifth grade secondary school. The contest aims to encourage the participation of women in STEM careers (careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), where the female representation is only 30.3 per cent, according to data from the 2019 National Superintendence of Higher Education (Sunedu).

North America

  • Nil report

South Asia

India

  • India’s long awaited National Education Policy was launched this week. The policy increases autonomy for higher education institutions, and introduces holistic education with flexibility on curriculum and multiple exit points. This flexibility will provide more opportunities for Australian education providers to attract Indian students in undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
  • Toppr, an Indian EdTech company has secured AUD 64 m to scale up, as it caters to the K-12 market which is experiencing significant demand. Opportunities exist for Australian EdTech companies and education providers to promote their products in collaboration with Indian EdTech companies.
  • The Education Minister launched the India report on Digital Education 2020. The report elaborates on the methods adopted by education departments across the country to ensure accessible and inclusive education to children at home and to reduce learning gaps. The report also discusses the various government initiatives to facilitate remote learning and education for all during this pandemic. The report provides Australian education providers a view of opportunities that exist in online education in India. The full report is available online.

NZ Pacific

  • Nil report

If you have questions, please contact the offices in market who can direct and assist in your enquiry. You can view Austrade office locations on our website.

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