Vietnam’s Emerging Educational Tech Sector
The world, including Vietnam, is on the verge of a revolution in the adoption of educational technology, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, most students were undertaking classes remotely through digital solutions. And many took online courses for the first time in a lifetime. Educators worldwide have shifted to online delivery of education literally overnight.
2020 has planted the seeds of an online learning model for coming years. Expectedly, the opportunities for edtech companies in Vietnam are apparent — the country is known for its significant spending on education (ca. 6% of GDP), as Vietnamese culture places a high value on education. Not surprisingly, Vietnam ranks 48th in the World Bank education ranking, which is relatively high for any lower-middle-income country. There is also an ongoing internalization of education, as many Vietnamese nationals study abroad (e.g., Vietnamese students contributed over US$800 million during the 2019–2020 academic year in the U.S.) and later return home. Besides, the cohort of under-20s is substantial. And this generation gradually enters the workforce of an economy that is going through a large-scale transformation.
The demographics of Vietnam hold so much promise too. Edtech companies can enter the market of approx. 17 million school-age students and approx. 1.8 million university students. It’s worth noting that the market may be even larger if we decide to take a look at casual learning, reskilling and online certifications, etc.
As edtech develops, the international and local interest in the sector strengthens. Recently, we have seen a solid number of foreign edtech companies entering the Vietnamese market — Duolingo, Ruangguru, Elsa, and Snapask, among many. There are also some established and rising Vietnamese market players. The biggest one is Topica Edtech Group, which is actually the leader in edtech industry in Southeast Asia. Topica has over 1,000 academic professors and instructors, recruits around 1,400 employees, and provides English-speaking courses and other short skill courses from Excel to guitar courses. Vietnam doesn’t have other market players of the same size as Topica. However, this vibrant country doesn’t lack exciting ones that are worth following.
Only in 2019–2020, there were around 10 deals with a total value of over US$18 million recorded in the media, which included 789.vn, Everest Education, MindX, Clevai, Kidtopi, Hachium, Edmicro, Yola Institute, Hocmai, and Kyna.vn. The combined products of the abovementioned edtech players include digital simplification of education management (789.vn), easy set-ups of websites for instructors without programming skills (Hachium), self-learning platform for K-12 students (Edmicro), tutoring and lectures for K-12 students (Hocmai and Clevai), preparation for international education with personalized courses (Everest Education), English-language courses and test preparations (Yola Institute), adult learning (Kyna.vn), English courses for kids with Native speakers (Kidtopi), and IT courses (MindX).
Undoubtedly, Vietnam has many positive factors that signal the opportunity — increasing internet penetration in semi-urban and rural areas (nearly 75.7 million projected users in 2023 vs. 63.6 million in 2020); improving internet connectivity; a large fraction of the young population with a high acceptability rate of online channels. Heading into 2021, I would really like to see more Southeast Asian, including Vietnamese, edtech companies not only grasping the opportunity but rising above.