Schools in Ho Chi Minh City will no longer be allowed to run extra classes, starting with the upcoming academic year, the city’s education chief said last week.
Le Hong Son, director of the Department of Education and Training, spoke in front of members of the municipal People’s Council in a routine query session on August 4, during which he announced his plan to ban all school-run after-hours classes.
He said the ban would likely be enforced for the coming academic year.
In Vietnam, the school year normally begins in late August or early September and ends around late May or early June the following year.
The director said that teachers will still be allowed to use their free time to teach extra classes operated by private institutions.
Son also admitted that the new regulation would likely lead to a boom in the establishment of private institutions in the coming years.
His plan was met with skepticism by members of the council however, as many raised questions on its practicality and necessity.
Vo Thi Ngoc Thuy, a member of the council, demanded further explanation of the reasons for banning extra classes at schools but not at private institutions, stressing that the two types are very similar.
“Extra classes at schools can be monitored, but is the same true for extra classes at private institutions?” another councilor, Thi Thi Tuyet Nhung, asked.
In response, Son said private institutions were required to obtain an operation permit before they could open after-hours classes, and only those that met standards on facilities and teaching qualifications would be granted it.
A cramped extra evening class. Photo: Tuoi Tre
He added that criteria including the impact on nearby traffic flow in respect of an institution’s location would also be considered.
Offering a different perspective, delegate Nguyen Thi Hong Thao said summer classes are beneficial in certain ways, as they provide students with additional knowledge and soft skills not taught in school.
According to Thao, many of her constituents are concerned about leaving their children at home alone during the two-month long summer.
In response, Son said kindergartens would still be allowed to open during the summer depending on the teachers’ will, while higher-level schools could offer summer programs and activities to keep students busy in a positive way.
“Apart from a few rotten apples that spoil the barrel for personal interests, we are only looking to eradicate wrongdoings in running extra classes,” Son explained.
Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, chairwoman of the Ho Chi Minh City’s People’s Council, wrapped up the query session by advising the education department to carry out a more comprehensive survey on the new regulation to avoid unnecessary bans.
“If a complete ban [on extra classes] is infeasible, then we must exploit their benefits,” Tam concluded.