|Dhruv Patel, CEO & Founder of Nisai Group at the official launch of Nisai Vietnam |
Having just opened two representative offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Nisai Group is still little known to most Vietnamese. Could you help VIR’s readers understand more about Nisai Group?
Established in 1996, Nisai Group is a pioneer of online education in the United Kingdom. We are an education organisation using technologies to provide an inclusive, social and student-focused environment that welcomes learners of all backgrounds. Now, in the UK we not only have online schools, but also four physical schools, three of which are for young people who require additional support.
At Nisai, we believe that everyone has equal value and should have access to quality-assured education around the world. It is our mission to give traditional and non-traditional learners the skills to flourish through innovative education and by influencing positive institutional change.
In Asia, we have been working in Japan, Brunei, Thailand, and now Vietnam. It was great to open offices here and the offices are going to be in charge of the wider Indochina region, so Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia will be part of the whole focus here. The decision to launch offices in Vietnam is a progressive step in Nisai’s global strategy in Asia, continuing our quest to making high-quality education accessible to students worldwide.
What do you mean by high-quality education?
All schools within Nisai Group are approved by the UK Department for Education with the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), or Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).
For example, so far, Nisai Group has been inspected and provided quality assurance by the Ofsted three times and obtained a "Good" rating, the second-highest grade available. We are also the first online school in the UK to be inspected by Ofsted. In addition, we have also gained the quality assurance certification of Inclusion Quality Mark (IQM) and IQM Centre of Excellence.
Furthermore, we are approved by Cambridge International to deliver Cambridge International programmes all around the world. We have also been authorised to deliver vocational education training (VET) programmes by the National Open College Network (NOCN), with qualifications recognised by the Office of Qualification and Examination Regulation (Ofqual).
What is the vision of Nisai?
In 2016, I was made aware of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals. These are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
These goals are all thoroughly interconnected, which means one cannot be achieved without progress in another. SDGs 1 and 2 (ending hunger and poverty) cannot be achieved without adequate education and skills in place around the globe. Having universal healthcare also starts with education.
With this in mind, we have the vision to achieve all the SDGs for 2030 through education. We have named this initiative #Nisai2030. In line with this vision, in August 2019 we partnered with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE) with the aim of investigating the potential of the use of ICT for the promotion of SDGs within schools.
In the ASEAN region, we have already started working with the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) to bring innovation to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes and English literacy. We realise that the world is fast moving towards Industry 4.0, but most countries in the ASEAN region are among those that are falling behind.
One of the major challenges that these countries are facing include the lack of efficient education systems. Therefore, with innovative technology and quality assured education, we hope to become a significant contributor to transforming the educational systems of the countries in the region to help them achieve the SDGs and equip students with a lifelong learning spirit for Industry 4.0 and beyond.
To achieve the #Nisai203 vision, we are honoured to be a partner to such prestigious organisations. These strategic partnerships bring us one step closer to achieving sustainability through education.
Can you share your offering for secondary education in Vietnam?
The team in Vietnam will lead an ambitious and futuristic venture for the Nisai Global School – the first fully interactive online British secondary school in the ASEAN region. The Nisai Global School aims to deliver quality assured home education for pupils aged 11-19 in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
The curriculum will be adapted from the Cambridge International curriculum, starting with Lower Secondary leading to Cambridge IGCSE and AS/A Level qualifications. The Nisai Global School is set to open its first school year in September 2020, primarily for students in grades nine to 12, but will eventually accept students from grade seven to Year 13.
Besides Nisai Global School, Nisai Vietnam will offer online and blended learning solutions for schools in the region. This can range from structured booster courses in English, Science, and Math, vocational and career-related learning, and project-based courses dedicated to investigating the UN SDGs for 2030 to a comprehensive Cambridge programme fully taught by our qualified teachers in the UK. Our offer helps Cambridge schools to overcome difficulties when delivering the Cambridge International Programme, as well as supports the delivery of quality Vocational Education and Training (VET) programmes to secondary students.
Our mission is to use technology to get to those people who do not have access to high-quality education, but we also realise that to provide quality education to all, ongoing professional development is key to empowering Vietnamese teachers.
Thus, in the long-term, we have set a strategic plan to open up our Nisai teacher academy to train local Vietnamese teachers with the 21st-century pedagogy approach and our way of teaching. We provide teachers with training courses and continuous professional development (CPD) to ensure they are capable to teach specialised subjects in English, which is in line with the development strategy of the Ministry of Education and Training and the Management Board of National Foreign Languages Project.
We will also offer a variety of services and activities for school leaders and other school staff from primary to upper secondary levels to share best practices and help schools to support their students. Having our own local Vietnamese teachers will also help us implement our inclusive programmes in the country as well as in the region, helping to improve access to education, especially among learners with special education needs and disabilities who are vulnerable and difficult to reach or cannot afford to go to school in order to bring value to the society.
Who are targeted learners for Nisai Global School?
We see a growing demand in the ASEAN region for international education, but not everyone can afford to go to international schools. So, it was a rational step to launch Nisai Global School. Nisai Global School welcomes talented students, homeschoolers, students in remote areas wanting an international education, and top performers in sports and the arts, regardless of their location in the ASEAN.
What vocational training will Nisai offer in Vietnam?
Vocational education plays an important role in enhancing the human capital of countries in the region to bring it more in line with current industry demands. In addition to Cambridge International programmes we aim to work collaboratively with mission-aligned organisations to bring in professional development courses, vocational programmes, and functional English, which is more vocation-based than academic English. This type of programme is suitable for those who would choose a vocational pathway rather than university. We want to begin with students at a completely zero base and bring them up.
First, we will focus on areas such as hospitality, childcare, spa and wellbeing. We aim to bring an international aspect to our vocational training in Vietnam because the country is looking to export human capital. The first point of training will be functional English, as, without basic communication skills, the workers will not be accepted abroad.
We also have customised programmes in place to provide training for specific target markets. For instance, through our office in Japan, we can help young people who are interested in going to Japan learn the Japanese language and culture.