Education ministry orders international school inspections

By Duong Tam   March 28, 2024 | 05:58 am PT
Education ministry orders international school inspections
Parents come to the AISVN to request their money back, Sept. 21, 2023. Photo courtesy of parents
The education ministry has ordered cities and provinces nationwide to investigate schools with "foreign-related curriculums" for corruption amid a teachers' strike at a Ho Chi Minh City international school.

In a document issued Thursday, the Ministry of Education and Training requested local education departments to conduct inspections and fine any violations.

Localities also need to remind parents and students to carefully consider what they have to gain from agreeing to the myriad forms of investment and tuition at such schools, the ministry decreed.

"Through evaluations at certain localities, organizations with foreign cooperation and investments at certain educational facilities have been found not abiding by the law, affecting the rightful interests of students," the ministry’s announcement read.

The move comes after some 1,200 students at the American International School Vietnam (AISVN) in Ho Chi Minh City had to stay home because most of the institution’s teachers went on strike and did not show up to work over unpaid salaries and insurance.

By March 20, 85 teachers out of 155 at the school had stopped working.

Parents have said they are now stuck in limbo as they have already paid the school billions of Vietnamese dong in loans as a form of tuition. In return for the funding, their children were supposed to study for free, with the loans to be returned after either graduation or when the students switch schools.

With their school effectively shut down it is currently extremely difficult for such students to switch schools because the school year is yet to end.

On Thursday, over 100 parents of AISVN students lodged a complaint to the school and the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training, demanding that their children be allowed to study online for an extra VND10-15 million ($400-600) so that they can finish the school year.

Vietnamese law does not have an exact definition of an "international school."

According to attorney Truong Anh Tu, "international schools" in Vietnam are simply privately owned companies that deem themselves "international."

Vietnam was home to over 120 international schools in 2022, according to school database ISC Research. Most of these institutions are located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and instruct students either fully or partially in English.

Since 2019, the number of international schools in Vietnam has increased by 42%, with a 30% increase in the number of students.

The total revenue at these schools has increased by 58% over the period.

Several schools have reported their yearly tuition earnings to total VND500-900 million ($20,173-36,311) for high school curriculums.

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