HCMC international school owes two-month salaries to foreign teachers

By Le Nguyen   March 18, 2024 | 11:31 pm PT
HCMC international school owes two-month salaries to foreign teachers
Nguyen Thi Ut Em, board chairwoman of the American International School Vietnam in HCMC, at a meeting with parents in October 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Le Nguyen
The American International School Vietnam (AISVN) in Ho Chi Minh City has not paid salaries for its teachers for two months, meaning that the education of 1,400 students has not returned to normal.

All students at AISVN had to stay home on Monday as most of the teachers did not come to work over salary and insurance issues. While the school reopened on Tuesday, the school said there would be "unavoidable disruption".

Nguyen Thi Ut Em, chairwoman of the AISVN board, on Monday said the school was forced to reopen following a discussion with the Department of Education and Training and other relevant authorities. If the school stays closed, it would face various punishments, she said.

"The school has reopened, but the teaching and the studying cannot return to normal yet, at least for this week. We have called for teachers to return to the school, but it’s a 50-50 chance. Some teachers may not come to class," Em said, adding that the school has over 400 teachers and staff, both from inside and outside of Vietnam.

Em did not disclose the amount of money the school has yet to pay for teachers’ salaries and insurance, saying she was not sure about the exact amount. However, she said foreign teachers have had two months’ worth of salaries and insurance withheld. Vietnamese teachers and other staff meanwhile also have 1.5-2 months’ worth of salaries and social insurance withheld.

Em said the school would try to come up with measures to pay up, as foreign teachers may leave permanently if they cannot receive their salaries and insurance in full.

She said the school is in a precarious financial situation and cannot currently cover operational costs as well as salaries. While the school has called for donations from parents, only some have agreed to do so.

The school is thinking about letting investment funds its restructure.

"I am negotiating with investment funds and partners. The most pressing matter for now is finance and the flow of money," Em said.

AISVN was established in 2006 in Nha Be District. The school teaches the International Baccalaureate program. The tuition fees are VND280-350 million ($11,300-14,100) 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 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, the money had not been paid back.

Em did not disclose how much money the school owes the parents.

HCMC has 35 schools with foreign capital. Their curriculums mainly utilize those from North America and the U.K., plus certain Vietnamese subjects. Tuition fees can reach up to VND1 billion a year.

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