Many kindergartens in Hanoi welcomed over 80 percent of students back on April 13 after a long shutdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The happiness of going back to school, however, is contrasted by the concern over a severe shortage of teachers, babysitters and security guards at preschools.
“Many teachers took on a better gig”
Quynh Nga, owner of a kindergarten in Thanh Xuan District, said that only one third of its old teachers returned to work on the reopening day.
“Many teachers have taken another job. Despite non-professional jobs, they have stable income and are not worried about being unemployed due to the pandemic,” Nga shared, adding that as the date of the reopening was unknown, the kindergarten failed to check whether its old teachers wanted to return to work or employ new staff.
As such, the city’s decision to reopen kindergartens after the recent Hung Kings’ Commemoration Day holiday, which fell on April 10, perplexed many kindergartens.
In many online kindergarten groups, private kindergarten owners frequently voiced their concerns over a serious shortage of teachers and workers.
On April 13, the number of children returning to kindergartens accounted for some 62 percent of the total and would continue to rise in the following days, according to Truong Thu Ha, deputy head of the education and training division of Hoang Mai District.
However, only 63.2 percent of kindergarten teachers registered to return to work on the day, said Ha.
“The number of teachers is just sufficient, but if the number of kindergarteners going back goes up, there will be a shortage of teachers for sure,” said Ha.
Similarly, according to the education and training division in Ba Dinh District, on April 13, nearly 80 percent of children in the district returned to kindergartens.
“If all school-age children had gone back to in-person classes, we would have faced a shortage of 215 teachers,” said the head of the division.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Hoan Kiem District education authorities indicated that some 30 to 40 percent of kindergarten teachers were considering quitting jobs.
The principal of a kindergarten in the district said that some teachers had gotten another job and refused to return, while many others had taken a temporary job such as babysitting kids at home.
These teachers might return to the kindergarten for work only after their current contracts expire.
“It will be hard to deal with the shortage of teachers as monthly salary levels are low at VND4-6 million (US$175-261). Besides, they spend 10 to 12 hours working and suffer much pressure.
“Meanwhile, if diseases break out, they are the first to be affected and become unemployed. Those who return to work at kindergartens certainly either love teaching or have yet to land a good job,” said a manager of the Ong Viet kindergarten system in Hanoi City.
Giving priority to children at disbanded kindergartens
Le Duc Thuan, head of the Ba Dinh District education and training bureau, said that the district had seen five kindergartens and four classes at private ones disband after the pandemic.
The students at these facilities will be transferred to others, putting further pressure on the teacher shortage.
Another district, Nam Tu Liem, has seen some 10 classes dissolved, said Nguyen Thi Huong, head of the education and training division of the district.
“Children at disbanded kindergartens will be prioritized for moving to public facilities,” said Huong, adding that parents can select to send their children to another private kindergarten.
Statistics from education and training divisions showed that the number of kindergarteners back to in-person classes in each district accounted for 60 to 87 percent of the total, while the number of children aged five returning to kindergartens represented over 90 percent.
Some children have failed to get back to kindergartens as their old schools were closed. Also, many parents remained hesitant to send their kids back to school due to the pandemic.
“I am sending my kid to a group of about five to seven children. The group has been maintained during the closure of kindergartens.
“One of the parents lent premises, while we hired two kindergarten teachers to teach and take care of the group. Everything is running smoothly, so I have yet to allow my kid to get back to school,” shared by a parent in My Dinh, Nam Tu Liem District.
Speaking at a working session at some kindergartens, Tran Thiet Cuong, director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training, said that local education and training divisions were told to review the shortage of teachers facing public kindergartens.
The department will report the results to the Hanoi government so the city can map out a plan for teacher recruitment.
Job transaction sessions for preschool teachers
Despite the relative stability of teachers at public preschools, many student-intensive schools are still facing a serious lack of teachers.
therefore, Bac Tu Liem District is planning to team up with some units to hold job transaction sessions for preschool teachers in an effort to help schools fix a teacher shortage in the near future.
In Vietnam, students rush to private classes as high school entrance, graduation exams near
As the high school entrance and graduation exams are starting in a few weeks, final-year students at middle and high schools are as busy as a bee at back-to-back extra classes.
Some students leave their extra classes and return home at 9:30 pm every day.
Like her fellow students, N., a ninth grader of Tang Nhon Phu B Middle School in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City, is in crunch time.
She has a very busy studying schedule. After school, she has to attend after-hours classes at a cultural fostering center and an English center.
Additionally, she takes private lessons in literature and math. Her daily extra classes often end at 9:00 pm.
She confessed that she felt under pressure but she had to try to get into a good high school. She encourages herself by thinking about relaxing after the exam.
T., a student of Vinh Kim High School in Tien Giang Province, is also nervous about the upcoming national high school graduation examination.
T. told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he has to take three extra classes per day, from 4:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Choosing to take natural science tests and expecting to be admitted to technology majors, T. is focusing on math, physics, chemistry, and English to register for groups of tests designated by the universities he is going to apply to.
“I did not take the competency assessment exam and the scores in my school report are qualified for some private universities only so I must get high scores in the national high school graduation exam to enroll in public universities,” T. said.
This exam is a milestone for high school students so taking many private lessons is nothing out of the ordinary, T. said, adding that he intended to sign up for some more online courses taught by famous teachers.
Learning a subject at many centers is inefficient
Learning one subject at two to three centers is time-consuming, according to Vo Kim Bao, a literature teacher at Nguyen Du Middle School in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.
However, many parents still send their children to several centers to study a subject to set their mind at rest.
Some parents have also suggested that Bao allow their children to attend his classes so that they can learn the same lessons several times.
|Students attend the high school entrance exam in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019.|
Bao said that students should spend one month before the exam doing sample tests to know their weaknesses and overcome them.
As for literature, writing skills are more important than knowledge in textbooks, Bao noted.
Students should train themselves in answering questions, distributing time, and arranging ideas for their writing. Skills can help get 60 percent of the highest score, he elaborated.
“Therefore, it is unnecessary to sign up for extra classes at many centers,” the teacher said.
“Students should learn by themselves and ask their teachers for help.
“Teachers will definitely be willing to help their students.”
Phung Quang Huy, an English teacher at the High School of Education Sciences under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi, said that it was unnecessary and ineffective to learn a subject at many centers.
English tests tend to feature vocabulary- and grammar-related questions, Huy said.
Normally, grammar is built from basic principles, while vocabulary questions require students’ self-taught skills, he added.
Therefore, instead of rushing to cram centers, students should spend more time acquiring basic knowledge and getting familiar with the types of test questions, he advised.
“They should also pay attention to questions which were often included in previous tests and other special questions,” Huy recommended.
“It is more important to keep their mind relaxed to achieve the best possible results for the exam.
“Students suffering from fatigue or lack of sleep will find it hard to obtain their desired results.”
The high school entrance exam is held annually around June for ninth-grade students as well as independent candidates to get into high school, as the name suggests.
The national high school graduation exam is organized in July every year for 12th graders and independent candidates. The exam results are used for both high school graduation and enrollment in universities and junior colleges.
This year, more than one million candidates have signed up for the high school graduation exam, including some 58,800 independent candidates.
Among the total candidates, nearly 103,400 registered for the exam for high school graduation, over 38,100 for university and junior college admission, and around 859,500 for both purposes, according to the Ministry of Education and Training.
Doctoral dissertation on Vietnam civil servants’ badminton development provokes backlash
A postgraduate successfully defended his doctoral dissertation in education on badminton development for civil servants in Son La Province, northern Vietnam, which has drawn public criticism for its narrow topic and poor value.
As of May 5, the online Library of Theses and Dissertations of the Ministry of Education and Training still stored a dissertation titled ‘Research on Solutions to Badminton Development for Civil Servants in Son La City,’ which was written and successfully presented at the Institute for Sports Science by a postgraduate named Dang Hoang Anh in 2022.
Son La City is the capital of the namesake province in northern Vietnam.
The website of the institute had earlier published the paper, highlighting that postgraduate Anh successfully defended his institute-level dissertation on January 19, 2022.
However, the dissertation is now inaccessible.
‘Research on badminton development solutions’
The topic of Anh’s dissertation, centered on pedagogy, was announced at the Institute for Sports Science of the General Department of Sports and Physical Training under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism on December 23 last year.
The website also lists multiple contributions and achievements of the dissertation.
“Comprehensive and scientific information about the participation of civil servants and public employees in Son La City in badminton shows that numerous existing problems are slowing down the popularity of this sport,” the website said.
“There is inadequate awareness among civil servants and public employees about the importance of playing badminton, a shortage of collaborators, ineffective private funding of badminton, and its limited physical fitness.
Through an analysis, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the development of the badminton movement for Son La City’s civil servants and public employees were pinpointed in the dissertation.
|A screenshot of postgraduate Dang Hoang Anh’s doctoral dissertation on badminton development for civil servants in Son La Province, Vietnam|
For the research, the topic features six solutions to the development of badminton for the city’s public employees, including popularizing the importance of this sport, developing the badminton movement toward private funding for it, forming a strong team of badminton players who are civil servants and public employees, completing a competition system in badminton for public employees, diversifying badminton training methods, encouraging civil servants to play badminton, and frequently assessing the badminton movement.
Based on the criteria for the development of badminton, the efficiency of the badminton movement would be improved after one year of applying five of the six solutions to sociological experiments.
Over the past few days, the dissertation has sparked public outrage on online academic forums. Many people assume that the topic is unworthy of a doctoral dissertation.
Dr. Nguyen Duc Danh, head of the science and education faculty at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education, affirmed that a doctoral dissertation can research and look for solutions, but the paper by postgraduate Anh covers too narrow a topic.
In reality, after a hard working day, civil servants and public employees can play many different sports such as swimming, football, and jogging rather than only badminton.
“Obviously, the scope of the research on the topic is extremely limited, as the purpose of playing sports is to get fit and healthy. Such a dissertation is unbefitting,” Danh stressed.
“Furthermore, the research subjects of the dissertation are civil servants and public employees, but not students, so the topic is not related to education,” he added.
To date, nearly 10 postgraduates have successfully defended doctoral dissertations in relation to the badminton topic at educational institutions nationwide.
Among these papers, some have titles quite similar to Anh’s.
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper contacted Anh and the Institute for Sports Science for further comment but received no response.
Hanoi students fight against food waste for nearly 10 years
Generations of students in Hanoi have provided free meals to disadvantaged people for nearly ten years.
These meals come from leftovers from restaurants, hotels, and households.
“Every day, leftover food in families’ refrigerators or restaurants is often thrown away,” said Pham Thu Uyen, an eleventh-grade student from Amsterdam High School in Hanoi, operator of Hanoi Food Rescue Season 10.
“Realizing this issue, we started our project.”
‘Food Rescue’ mission keeps going on
Beginning as a result of a contest hosted by a university, the Hanoi Food Rescue project is already in its tenth year.
The group consists of more than 40 students from high schools in Hanoi.
From Friday to Monday every week, they collect leftovers from restaurants, hotels, and canteens, which they contact and ask for permission to provide leftover food for the needy.
Uyen said the remnants are still fresh so it is such a waste to throw them away.
Therefore, these young people proactively contact hotels, restaurants, and canteens around the capital city to collect leftover food to prepare meals for poor patients and those in need.
In addition, such food is contained in eco-friendly boxes.
Once a part of the project, each member has realized that they have to do something to save food and increase community awareness of the issue, Uyen added.
Recalling a trip to a vocational training center for disabled children to give them food, students from the project talked to and encouraged the kids.
After trips like that, Uyen and her friends found out there are so many people in need of food while they have full meals every day but waste food sometimes.
After the fourth COVID-19 outbreak that hit the country last April, the project has restarted.
More than meals
Aside from giving food to the disadvantaged, the Hanoi Food Rescue aims to raise community awareness of food waste by hosting two annual programs Tet (Lunar New Year) Donation and The Hunger Games.
For the Tet Donation, the group calls on people to donate food, clothes, and books to the poor kids.
During the pandemic, everyone could register to donate through an online form and the organizers went to registered addresses to get the donated items.
Moreover, the group also hosted a garage sale to fundraise for the charity event at Sword Lake Pedestrian Street. Each item sold was a gift for disadvantaged children.
Through the program, more than 3.5 metric tons of food, candies, clothes, books, and notebooks were given to the poor students at Tan Son 1 Elementary School in Luc Ngan District, Bac Giang Province, 50km east of Hanoi, according to Uyen.
The group also ‘rescued’ agricultural products stuck at border gates.
Besides, they have called for donations to those who lost their jobs, or who lack food or medicine, because of severe COVID-19 outbreaks.
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