Many schools in Ho Chi Minh City currently have a bunch of problems to solve as a massive immigration boom in recent years has pushed the number of students enrolled in them up to a tense level.
These immigrant students come to the metropolis with their parents from other cities and provinces nationwide.
The city has seen an increase of 85,000 new students after one year, according to the August statistics of the municipal Department of Education and Training.
In the academic year of 2014-15, the total number of high school students in Binh Tan District was 82,555 but that figure has increased by 13,000 to 95,156 students in the 2015-16 school year.
Most of them do not have their family’s permanent residency registered in Ho Chi Minh City.
This school year, among 42,000 elementary school students studying in the district, there are nearly 17,000 who do not have their family’s permanent residency registered in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Pham Van Muoi, deputy chairman of the Binh Tan People’s Committee, the total population of the locality has doubled over the last 10 years to nearly 700,000.
Meanwhile, Binh Chanh is one of the districts that have a headache over the increasing number of immigrant students every year.
The district had nearly 19,000 students without their family’s permanent residency registered in the city in the 2013-14 academic year and that number is almost 27,000 now.
Le Hoai Nam, deputy director of the Department of Education and Training, said besides Binh Tan and Binh Chanh, other districts like Hoc Mon, Go Vap and District 12 have also been under the huge pressure of immigrant students.
Schools are overloaded
Nguyen Tri Dung, head of the Binh Chanh Office of Education and Training, said some schools have to run 62-64 classes, while they are allowed to offer a maximum of 45 classes.
“That has put immense pressure on the school’s management,” Dung admitted.
According to Nguyen Van Ngai, former deputy director of the Department of Education and Training, every year Ho Chi Minh City constructs more than 1,000 new classrooms but that still cannot meet the demand of students.
Four graders line up to enter their classroom at Vinh Loc A Elementary School in Binh Chanh District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre
In addition, municipal authorities have requested that all children aged six be enrolled in the first grade at elementary school no matter whether they have their family’s permanent residency registered in the city.
“This is a real challenge,” Ngai said. “That explains why in some classes, the number of students could surpass 50 while regulations require that each class have a maximum of 35 students.”
“Classes with 40-50 students are common in the city,” he added, saying that has caused difficulties for teaching.
Ngo Van Tuyen, head of the Binh Tan Office of Education and Training, said that teachers are always required to work very hard to ensure their teaching quality and student crowding does make it harder for them.
Since the number of students is always higher than regulated, schools have to curtail their boarding programs and use all rooms for learning, Tuyen said.
Due to the large number of students, the space for each student in the classroom, the playground or the library has shrunk, he added.
Not only does student crowding directly affect schools but it also hurts the city’s budget.
In the 2014-15 academic year, one-third of the city’s spending for education was channeled into Binh Tan and Binh Chanh alone.
Another issue is the increasing demand for teachers year after year.
In the 2015-16 school year, Binh Chanh needs 421 teachers but it could recruit only 226 teachers, said Dung, head of the Binh Chanh Office of Education and Training.
No more land for school construction
According to forecasts by the Binh Tan People’s Committee, the district would need 633 more classrooms in the next few years even though it will put into operation 90 new classrooms at nine schools in this academic year.
At the elementary school level, the district will need 731 additional rooms.
“Previous forecasts said that Binh Tan’s population would reach 700,000 people by 2020 but it has hit that milestone already,” said a deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Investment.
“In 2017-18, many districts will have no more land for school construction,” he added. “It would be a huge problem for us.”