Teachers at HCMC international school go on strike over unpaid salaries

By Le Nguyen   March 18, 2024 | 02:10 am PT
Teachers at HCMC international school go on strike over unpaid salaries
A corner of the American International School Vietnam in HCMC's Nha Be District. Photo by VnExpress/Le Nguyen
Around 1,400 students of the American International School Vietnam (AISVN) had to stay home on Monday as most teachers had stopped teaching over withheld salaries.

The school in Nha Be District receives students from kindergarten to 12th grades, and teaches the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

Thanh Phuong, mother of a 9th grader at the school, on Monday said she received an email from the school the previous night, saying that the number of available teachers is not enough to ensure the education and safety of the students.

"Over the next days, it is not confirmed whether the students would be able to return to school as the teachers are on strike. The situation has been tense for months; I don't know where will this lead," Phuong said.

Hong Hanh, whose three children are studying at the school, said the incident has been a great shock to her family. Her children not able to go to school has disrupted the family's schedule, and their education would also be disrupted if the school cannot provide a viable solution, she added.

"I never thought an international school would be in such a situation," Hanh said. "It is almost certain that the children will not be able to return to school in the next two days, and a spring break lasting over 10 days would come next. Foreign teachers may return to their countries right after the holiday if they do not get their salaries and insurance."

She said that at a parent-teacher meeting on Sunday, the school said 95% of the teachers would not go to work on Monday over unpaid salaries and insurance. Nguyen Thi Ut Em, head of the school’s management board, therefore decided to let all students stay home on Monday.

The school said it was going through financial difficulties, so it could not pay salaries in full and in time for its teachers and employees. The school once asked for donations from parents to help the school get by, but the proposal was not supported.

Le Thuy My Chau, vice director of the HCMC Department of Education and Training, said the department is working with the school to ensure the rights of parents and students.

The AISVN was established in 2006. By the end of last year, the school had over 1,400 students, 200 foreign teachers and 300 domestic employees. The tuition fees are at VND280-350 million ($11,327-14,159) per year for kindergarteners, VND450-500 million for primary school students, and 600-725 million for middle and high school students.

Several parents had gathered in September last year to demand the school to pay back debts. They said the school had borrowed tens of billions of Vietnamese dong without interest for the children to be able to study for free, but even when the children had graduated, that money have not been paid back.

HCMC has 35 schools with foreign capitals. Their curriculums mainly utilize those from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada, plus certain Vietnamese subjects. Their tuition fees can go up to VND1 billion a year.

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