Sweden pushes for innovation, safe Internet surfing in Vietnam

January 30, 2019 | 09:29 am GMT+7

The Swedish embassy in Hanoi has been making efforts for years to promote innovation, the safe use of Internet in Vietnam and make good use of it to benefit socio-economic development.

 Concern for safe Internet

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Victoria Rhodin Sandström, deputy head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi. 
Vietnam has one of the highest rates of Internet penetration in the world, with 54% of its population, or 50 million people, having access to Internet as of 2017, up six percentage points from 2016, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications. Meanwhile, the number of social media users in the country is on the rise, reaching some 60 million currently.
Amid such a boom of Internet use in Vietnam, the Swedish embassy on January 19 launched Fake # Fact, a toolkit help children meditate and assess news on the Internet. The Fake ≠ Fact toolkit offers the opportunity to raise awareness about these highly relevant issues of access to information and source criticism.
At the event, teachers and students learnt about skills to fact-check and separate reliable information from unreliable information, thus staying away from fake news.
“In my opinion, internet is a wonderful resource, not least for children. It can be used for a variety of purposes such as education, communication and entertainment. 
Children are born curious and that curiosity should be encouraged. That is also true on the internet. 
The online community offers a fantastic opportunity to find new friends, learn new things and connect to the world. 
Accessing the internet also provides a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to accessing information,” said Victoria Rhodin Sandström, deputy head of Mission of the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi. 
“However, in Sweden and all over the world, we need to provide children and youths the necessary tools to separate reliable information from unreliable. We need to encourage them to question information and facts that are given so that they take advantage of the ocean of information on the internet,” the diplomat added.
Media expert Hoang Minh Tri told Hanoitimes that he was concerned about the rampant use of Internet by Vietnamese children, and in many cases without parental guidance or supervision. The loosened control has led to several tragic happenings caused by “online bullying.” The toolkit will help children raise awareness of information on Internet.
Earlier, the embassy launched the Save the Children Handbook #netsmart on the sidelines of the Vietnam Internet Forum in November 2017, providing ways to help kids surf Internet in a safe manner.
Innovation in focus

Swedish Ambassador Pereric Hogberg speaks at a press conference on the 50th anniversary of the Sweden-Vietnam relations in Hanoi. Photo coutersy: Swedish embassy
Swedish Ambassador Pereric Hogberg speaks at a press conference on the 50th anniversary of the Sweden-Vietnam relations in Hanoi. Photo coutersy: Swedish embassy
Ranked one of the most innovative countries in the world, Sweden has known how to take advantage of innovation for the sake of its economy and people. And the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi wants to spread this spirit to the Vietnamese people.
In coordination with Vietnamese ministries and leading Swedish companies operating in the Southeast Asian country, the embassy in recent years has held the annual contest named “Innovate like a Swede” in a bid to encourage Vietnamese youths to bring up new ideas and solutions to pressing problems that Vietnam is facing.
In addition to “Innovate like a Swede”, in collaboration with Lund University, the embassy is also holding a competition named #InnovationForGood, where Innovators, social entrepreneurs or startups in the intersection of technology, media and social good will have a chance to win a trip to Sweden to learn more about innovation.
According to Swedish Ambassador Pereric Hogberg, the Nordic country, via its presence in Vietnam such as its diplomatic mission, enterprises and universities, wants to see Vietnam to continue develop in a sustainable way and inspire Vietnamese young people with Sweden’s experiences in innovation, including both successes and failures. 
When asked about how Swedish children have been taught of critical thinking, Victoria Rhodin Sandström said: “We are trying to explain the Swedish model of society, which is building on openness, transparency and the encouragement to question. We strongly believe that if you question the information that is given, if you try to think a little bit outside of the box, that’s how you’ll find innovative solutions.”
“In school, for a long time, children have been encouraged to question, and to not just accept what is being taught by the teachers. Sometimes maybe you can have different opinions about that, but I think that’s one of the key factors to make Sweden successful,” she added.
Internet Forum
Following the success of the first edition of the Vietnam Internet Forum (VIF) in November 2017, the embassy will hold the second edition on March 20 and 21, 2019 in the iconic Hanoi Museum, Victoria Rhodin Sandström told Hanoitimes.
There will be one session in the forum dedicated to the information and trust. In addition, a wide range of issues will be debated such as e-governance, smart cities, open data, citizen journalism, Sandström tipped.
The VIF 2017 was co-hosted by the Embassy of Sweden in Vietnam and the Ministry of Information and Communications. Co-organizers and partners were Lund University Internet Institute (LUii), Vietnam Internet Association (VIA), UNDP and UNESCO.
Speakers and participants included government officials, civil society representatives, academia, business leaders, social entrepreneurs and investors.