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.