Parents call for help amid teachers' strike at HCMC international school

By Le Nguyen   March 19, 2024 | 03:00 am PT
Parents call for help amid teachers' strike at HCMC international school
Parents pick up their children at the American International School Vietnam in HCMC, March 19, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Le Nguyen
Several parents have requested for help as their children cannot go to class at the American International School Vietnam (AISVN) amid a teachers' strike over unpaid salaries and insurance.

Ho Tan Minh, office head of the HCMC Department of Education and Training, on Tuesday said parents have sent complaints to the department, saying they had tried multiple times to discuss with the school and help with paying teachers' salaries, but the problem has not been resolved. Parents are now asking for relevant authorities to deal with the issues so the students can return to school.

Around 1,400 students at the school had to stay home on Monday. The school said it is in a precarious financial situation, where it has yet to pay two months' worth of salaries and insurance for its teachers and staff.

AISVN said it has reopened on Tuesday. But Thanh Phuoc, from Nha Be District, said the school bus was not operating, so he had to take his two children to class by himself. The classroom itself was also not functioning.

"My children called me, saying they had to sit at the cafeteria as there were no teachers in class," he said.

By 8:30 a.m., dozens of students had been taken home by their parents. A 9th grader said his class has not had teachers present for several days. After an hour wandering around the school, he finally decided to take a ride-hailing service home.

Hoang Hung, the parent of a 6th grader, said he also took his child home after 30 minutes at school.

"There are no teachers for the 6th graders," he said.

Some parents said they would continue to send their complaints regarding the AISVN for breaching their contracts, as well as requesting for help from the education department.

"The parents have no other way but to mentally prepare themselves and consider plans to switch schools for their children if the situation does not improve," said Hanh, a parent to a kindergartener and a 4th grader at the school.

Minh said the education department has been discussing the matter with Nguyen Thi Ut Em, chairwoman of the AISVN. Within its jurisdiction and capabilities, the department would try its best to ensure education rights for the students, he added.

If parents wish to switch schools for their children, the department would recommend other international schools with a similar program, as well as appropriate private schools.

"For some 11th and 12th graders who have difficulties switching schools, the department would support them, ensuring that their education is not disrupted," Minh said.

"Transaction, contract and investment issues between parents and the school, however, fall outside of the department’s jurisdiction."

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.

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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