HCM City faces classroom shortage due to closure of private schools

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A student’s body temperature is checked before going to class in Tuổi Thơ (Childhood) Kindergarten in HCM City’s District 8. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hoài

HCM CITY — If HCM City continues to see an increase in the number of dissolved private schools due to the pandemic, there will not be enough classrooms for students when schools resume in-person classes.

The pandemic has left multi-faceted negative impacts on the city’s education system. Faced with financial difficulties due to the pandemic, many investors are withdrawing money from the education sector.

Many private schools have been dissolved or have ceased their operation, leading to increasing pressure on public schools. Last academic year, 151 private preschool educational institutions were dissolved and stopped operating, resulting in a reduction of 411 classrooms.

In the last two years, the number of private high schools did not increase and only a few preschool institutions were added. An increase in students has also put pressure on public schools.

According to the city’s Department of Education and Training, the city has 1,020 private schools at all levels with more than 276,000 students in the 2020-21 academic year.

Every year, the number of public high schools provides about 80 per cent of total seats for 10th-grade students. Public high schools do not have enough classrooms for 10th graders.

Lương Thị Hồng Điệp, head of the department’s Preschool Education Division, said the city had more than 1,750 private child care providers, including private preschools, family-based daycare facilities and other child care facilities, making up about 60 per cent of the preschools in the city.

The most obvious issue is that the number of classrooms for students will decrease if the private schools stop operation.

Bình Tân District is one of the localities facing a lot of pressure on increasing numbers of students over the years.

Ngô Văn Tuyên, head of the district’s Education and Training sub-department, said the district had two kindergartens and 11 child-care facilities that had been dissolved due to the pandemic.

To be able to accommodate enough classrooms for school-aged children, the district relies on the private schools, according to the official.

Huỳnh Thu Thủy, the owner of two kindergartens in Phú Nhuận District, said the total number of students at the schools was nearly 200, but only 50 of their parents intend to send their children to schools.

She had to borrow money from the bank to keep schools open over the past seven months.

“I’m afraid that I will not be able to hold out until February to reopen,” she said. “Public schools do not have enough classrooms to accept all children, so the number of children in a public class will be very high.”

Teacher shortage

As of September last year, more than 12,300 teachers and other school staff lost their jobs due to the pandemic, mainly preschool teachers, accounting for 82 per cent of the total.

Huỳnh Công Thái, owner of Đông Đô High School in Bình Thạnh District, said his school lost 20-30 per cent of teachers, mainly for grades 9 and 12.

“I hope that there will be support from the city leaders at all levels so that teachers in other provinces will soon return to the city to work,” he said.

With limited financial resources caused by the pandemic, many parents have moved their children to study in public schools to reduce costs.

Trần Trọng Khiêm, deputy head of Tân Phú District’s Education and Training sub-department, said local schools would use the number of students attending the schools to determine the balance between the number of teachers and students when schools reopen.

Private schools are also facing many obstacles in both licensing and operating because of legal issues regulating land-use planning in the education sector.

Lương Thị Hồng Điệp said the municipal People’s Committee had decided to reopen preschools from February 2022.

Education and training sub-departments in Thủ Đức City and districts are synthesising data on the number of teachers and students to have a specific plan for reopening.

“The schools will ensure enough teachers at least for the first two weeks after reopening,” she said.

The department would give an update on the shortage of teachers at preschool education institutions, especially private institutions in the city to have specific solutions for each unit, Điệp said.

The Ministry of Education and Training’s Pre-school Education Department is developing a roadmap to support private schools to overcome difficulties. — VNS

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