Saigon struggles to keep low-paid preschool teachers from quitting

By Manh Tung   May 13, 2017 | 04:56 pm GMT+7
Saigon struggles to keep low-paid preschool teachers from quitting
A public kindergarten school in Saigon. Photo by VnExpress/Manh Tung

Thousands of kindergarten teachers call it quits in the city each year, prompting officials to review the salary. 

Ho Chi Minh City's government is asking for legislative approval to set aside a budget worth VND250 billion ($11 million) each year to attract preschool teachers and reduce the high turnover rate. 

The budget will be used to raise salaries and allowances for teachers at local kindergartens and hire new staff under short-term contracts. 

The city now needs more than 11,000 teachers for kindergartens, including 3,300 for public schools, according to its official data.

More than 1,000 preschool teachers quit or retire each year and recruiting is a difficult task as the salary is very low. 

According to media reports, many teachers at public kindergarters have to take care of very large classes, sometimes 15-20 children per teacher. Their income, however, does not match the hard work, ranging from VND2 million, or less than $100 per month, for fresh graduates. 

Preschool is one of the sectors with the most serious workforce shortage. 

Kindergartens across the country are in need of 30,000 teachers while up to 27,000 teachers of elementary, secondary and high schools are jobless.

Scandals

The significant lack of preschool teachers has led to severe overload, which is sometimes believed to be the main cause behind recent scandals of bribery and mistreatment. 

It's not rare for Vietnamese parents to offer gifts and money to preschool teachers to make sure their children receive the best care in class. 

In March, Ho Chi Minh City shut down a private kindergarten in Go Vap District after two staff members were caught on video spoonfeeding the children in a violent manner. They also slapped some children who did not swallow the food. 

A month before that, two teachers in Hanoi were fined VND2.5 million ($110) each after an online video showed them beating crying children in the head.

In a rare case, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced two babysitters to three years in jail back in January 2014 for torturing children at an unlicensed school.