Hundreds of students at a secondary school in northern Vietnam have been spending their English periods doing nothing since the new school year started in August due to a serious shortage of English teachers.
Ly Tu Trong Secondary School in the northern city of Hai Phong teaches a total of 15 classes, from grades 6-9, in the 2019-20 academic year.
Each of the classes requires three 45-minute periods of English lessons weekly according to the nationwide high school program, its headmistress Dao Thi Minh Phuong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
That is equivalent to 45 English periods that need coverage every week, she added.
Meanwhile, the school’s only English teacher can only handle a maximum of 19 periods per week in pursuant with the Vietnamese labor law, Phuong said.
That leaves all of the school’s over 250 students in grades 7 and 8 without an English teacher since the beginning of this school year, according to the headmistress.
“For weeks, students in my child’s class have been idling away their English periods, supervised by a teacher of a different subject,” said one parent of an eighth-grade student at Ly Tu Trong Secondary School.
While the official opening ceremony of schools in Vietnam takes place on September 5, it’s a common practice for schools to start teaching weeks earlier to get students accustomed to their timetable.
“I’m concerned the situation would affect students’ performance later on, since [English] is an important subject,” the parent said.
The authority to hire new teachers does not lie in the school, but in the administration of Ngo Quyen District of Hai Phong where the school is located, Phuong said.
The school has reported the situation to the district administration asking for support in recruiting more English teachers, she added.
“We can do nothing but assign teachers of other subjects to supervise classes during English periods while waiting for more English teachers to be employed,” Phuong said.
A leader of Ngo Quyen District told Tuoi Tre it has already held a public examination to recruit English teachers and found three qualified candidates.
However, these candidates must submit relevant documents for verification before they can be officially added to the government payroll, which can take some time, the leader said.
“The verification process is still ongoing so we cannot officially assign the new teachers to local schools yet,” the official said.
However, the district leader added it had worked with leaders of the school to bypass the process and allow these candidates to begin taking classes immediately while waiting for their profile to be approved.
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