American International School resumes classes after paying teachers

By Le Nguyen   April 3, 2024 | 12:08 am PT
American International School resumes classes after paying teachers
Students bring cakes to celebrate as they return to classes at the American International School Vietnam in HCMC, April 3, 2024. Photo courtesy of parents
The American International School Vietnam has resumed business as normal after foreign teachers were assigned slots in class, the HCMC education department said Wednesday.

Nguyen Van Hieu, director of the HCMC Department of Education and Training, said it is now compiling the number of students who would return to school.

The private school in HCMC's Nha Be District has been dealing with a teachers' strike over unpaid salaries and insurance for weeks now, disrupting classes for around 1,300 students.

Previously on Tuesday, Hieu said the school is expected to have enough teachers to for classes in primary school and 11th and 12th grades. But within the night, the school's principal has called for all foreign teachers to go to work, and thus all classes in all grade levels have resumed on Wednesday.

The education department said all foreign teachers have had their salaries paid for January and February, along with rent money for February. Vietnamese teachers and staff have been paid 50% of their salaries for February, and more money would be sent to them on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the education department said 82 out of 119 foreign teachers at AISVN have agreed to return to teaching, while all Vietnamese teachers and staff (over 100 people) have agreed to return to work.

Phuong Thanh, the parent of a third grader, said the school bus came to pick up her kid at 7:40 a.m. on Wednesday as usual. She hopes the school’s operation would return to normal so that her child can finish the school year properly.

"When I heard that classes would start again, I was reassured somewhat. My child is also happy to meet their friends and teachers again," Thanh said.

Bui Thong’s 6th and 8th grader children feel the same way. Thong said some of his children’s friends even brought cakes to school to celebrate.

AISVN, established in 2006, provides curriculums under the International Baccalaureate program.

The school's tuition is VND280-350 million a year for kindergarteners, VND450-500 million a year for primary school levels, and VND600-725 million for middle and high school levels.

But it has suffered difficult financial situation and encountered problems paying salaries to teachers from late last year.

The school was able to return to operation thanks to parents having contributed around VND22 billion ($880,880) as of April 1 to pay their teachers and staff. On March 31, Nguyen Thi Ut Em, head of the school, said AISVN would need around VND125 billion to continue operating until the end of the school year in June. She hoped that parent could contribute between VND9.5-25.5 million per student per month, besides the tuition paid.

Hieu said around 85% of parents want to let their children continue studying at the school. The education department, the school and the parents have opened a joint account to receive the contribution money. However, only 612 parents agreed to pay.

Em has been forbidden from leaving the country over personal income tax issues.

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