Millions of high school students in Ho Chi Minh City and many other cities and provinces returned to school on August 22 for their 2022-2023 academic year. The soaring number of students, leading to school overcrowding, plus teacher shortage, is a big headache in many localities.
“As the number of students is on the rise, there will not be enough space to house all in the next few years,” said a representative of the education and training bureau in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City.
Schools struggling with upsurge in student number
Binh Tan District annually sees the number of students of all grades increase by 4,000-5,000 on average.
“This year, the district will have an additional 4,400 students. As a result, the district must build at least three new schools with 30 classrooms each every year to meet the needs of the students,” the representative said.
However, the construction of new schools in Ho Chi Minh City is facing several obstacles over land and site clearance.
According to Ho Tan Minh, chief of the office of the Ho Chi Minh Department of Education and Training, over 21,800 students go to school in the city in the 2022-2023 academic year.
However, the number of students is expected to continue rising after the school year opening ceremony, slated for September 5.
In Ho Chi Minh City, the number of students, mainly at elementary schools, will soar by 40,000 each year.
Thu Duc City, District 12, Binh Tan District, Binh Chanh District, and Hoc Mon District, which are in the process of rapid urbanization, report the highest growth of student numbers.
Creating favorable conditions for all students to attend school, many districts have increased class sizes and allowed students of some grades to join two sessions per day.
“A big challenge facing the district is a lack of schools and classrooms,” Khuu Manh Hung, head of the District 12 education and training bureau.
“The number of students attending two sessions per day remains modest, at 28 percent at elementary schools and 22.7 percent at middle schools.
“However, the district is seeing many elementary schools exceed their capacity, with over 50 students packed in a classroom.
“Many parts in the city are allowing elementary school students to attend classes every Saturday to reduce oversized classes.”
For the new school curriculum, teachers and students of grades 1, 2 and 3 at Tran Quoc Toan Elementary School will have to enter the school on Saturdays, said Nguyen Van Nguyen, principal of the school in Binh Chanh District.
|Dao Le Thien Phuc, a student of Thanh Da Middle School in Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City and his grandmother are seen arranging textbooks and notebooks before returning to school. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre
Various solutions put forward
Statistics from the Hanoi Department of Education and Training indicated that in the 2022-2023 academic year, the capital city has 2,835 schools with a total of more than 70,000 classrooms housing 2.2 million K-12 students.
In 2022, Hanoi built 51 more classrooms at a cost of over VND2.8 trillion (US$119.6 million) and spent VND5 trillion ($213.5 million) repairing 605 schools.
However, since the 2022-2023 school year started, many parts in the city have been facing school overcrowding.
Hoang Liet Ward, which reports a fast urbanization rate and has over 80,000 residents, annually sees 1,500-1,800 babies born.
The ward has one kindergarten, three elementary schools, and two middle schools.
These schools are now overcrowded, while the Hoang Liet kindergarten was reported to exceed its capacity.
Ha Dong, Cau Giay, and Nam Tu Liem Districts in Hanoi are confronted by school overcrowding due to mushrooming urban and residential areas.
Oversized classes are mainly seen at elementary schools. Many classes have up to 55 students each, much higher than the permissible level, according to the Hanoi Department of Education and Training.
Nguyen Thi Mai Hoa, principal of Me Tri Elementary School in Nam Tu Liem District, said that the class sizes of the first grade range from 52 to 54 students.
Some wards in the capital city already ran out of land for public school construction, said Tran The Cuong, director of the municipal Department of Education and Training.
Cuong said that his department has proposed building more floors at schools to address the class size issue.
Accordingly, functional rooms and those for teachers and staff will be located on high floors, while classrooms will be nestled on lower levels.
Another solution proposed by the leader of the municipal department is prioritizing the construction of public schools in inner-city areas after the headquarters of ministries, departments, universities, and factories are relocated to the city’s suburban areas.
|Students attend a class in Hanoi. Photo: Nam Tran/ Tuoi Tre
Severe teacher dearth
According to the Hanoi education department, the capital city is facing a shortage of 7,147 teachers of all grades for the 2022-2023 school year.
As such, the department is considering allowing Hanoi University to introduce a major to train future teachers for the city, said Cuong.
Besides, Hanoi has proposed the Ministry of Home Affairs direct relevant agencies to allocate sufficient teachers and school staff to public schools to avoid a teacher shortage.
Also, the Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang and Dong Thap are worried about a lack of teachers.
Tran Thi Ngoc Diem, director of the An Giang Department of Education and Training, on August 21 said that the province has issued a decision allowing K-12 students to get back to school from August 29 to 31.
However, in the new school year, An Giang is grappling with a severe shortage of kindergarten teachers, so the provincial department will soon start a recruitment drive, Diem said.
In the same fashion, Dong Thap lacks some 200 teachers for elementary and middle schools, said Nguyen Thuy Ha, director of the local Department of Education and Training,
“Therefore, the department is prompting localities to support the province by sending their teachers to some schools. We are planning to recruit teachers and complete the recruitment drive in late November,” said Ha.