Probe launched after teacher forced to kneel in apology by angry parents in Vietnam

By Quynh Trang, Vi Vu   March 5, 2018 | 03:18 am PT
Probe launched after teacher forced to kneel in apology by angry parents in Vietnam
A primary school in Long An Province where a teacher kneeled to apologize to some parents last month for punishing their children. Photo by VTCNews
The parents claim their children had been humiliated for breaking school rules.

Vietnam’s education ministry has ordered an investigation following reports that a teacher was forced to kneel before parents after punishing their children in an incident that has triggered public outcry.

Any act that humiliates teachers is a violation of human rights, the ministry said on Monday, after news surfaced that a female teacher had to kneel in front of her students’ parents to apologize.

Minister Phung Xuan Nha has ordered education officials to investigate the case "to protect the teacher."

According to media reports, a group of parents in Long An Province gathered at a local primary school late last month to protest against the punishment dished out to their children.

The teacher allegedly made some students kneel in class for violating school rules, and the parents claim that it had scared their children from going to school.

During talks with the parents, the teacher was seen kneeling to apologize. A VTCNews report said the parents had forced her to kneel after they refused to accept her apology, but the information has not been confirmed by the education ministry.

The story has saddened many teachers, who said they felt hurt that their colleague was not respected and that they expected better protection for teachers.

Hoang Duc Minh, the official in charge of managing teachers at the ministry, said that teachers would be punished for any misdemeanors they committed at work, but “any act of humiliation against their teaching careers had to be condemned”.

Many readers disagreed with the way the parents had ganged up at school, although the public reaction was divided.

Some questioned if the teacher had humiliated the children in the first place by making them kneel in class, while others said it was a normal form of punishment. 

Teaching is considered a respectable career in Vietnam, although teachers receive far less respect than their predecessors these days, insiders said.

The country’s economic development has resulted in jobs with better pay, but teachers’ salaries have remained stagnant. Vietnam also celebrates teachers with songs, stories, folk tales and a special day each year, but that is rarely enough to feed them.

A national study presented to the legislative National Assembly last September showed that teachers with 13 years of experience received only VND3-3.5 million ($132-154) a month, including bonuses, which was roughly equal to the minimum wage in the business sector. Vietnam’s average annual income was $2,200 last year.

Around 40 percent of the teachers questioned said they would choose another job if they had the chance.

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