|Students study at the Nghia Tan Secondary School's library in Cau Giay District, Ha Noi. Non-teaching staff in Vietnamese schools such as librarians, security guards and janitors often find it difficult to get by with their measly pay and work benefits, despite working the same hours as their teaching colleagues. — VNA/VNS Photo Quy Trung
HA NOI (VNS) — Non-teaching staff in Vietnamese schools such as librarians, security guards and janitors often find it difficult to get by with their measly pay and work benefits, despite working the same hours as their teaching colleagues.
A librarian at a secondary school in HCM City, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Youth newspaper that her total monthly income was maxed out at VND5.1 million (US$225).
Yet she said her situation was still better compared to many of her colleagues thanks to the extra income she received from working a double shift.
Many librarians who work at single-shift schools, which have classes either in the morning or the afternoon, do not have a second source of income aside from their salaries, which amount to about VND2-4 million ($85-175).
Unlike teachers, it's almost impossible for them to find a part-time job because of the low demand for their profession. Most of them have to find something else to do in order to gain some extra income after working hours.
"My monthly salary is VND2.6 million ($115). The school pays me an extra $40 to do repair jobs and take care of the garden," said a security guard who has been working at a secondary school in HCM City for more than ten years.
The only reason he continues to work for the school is because his children, who are currently enrolled there, receive numerous discounts on their tuition fees and lunches.
He said that current regulation allows a school to have a maximum of two security guards. Because of that, he and the other guard have to do 24-hour shifts without taking any breaks on a regular basis.
He said they have to keep an eye on too many students, as schools in big cities such as HCM City and Ha Noi are often situated among populated areas and overcrowded. In addition, security guards are frequently overburdened with many minor tasks aside from their main jobs.
Many complained that the worst day for them was Vietnamese Teacher Day on November 20.
As part of the school's staff, they were assigned various tasks during the annual celebration of Vietnamese teachers, from making tea to greeting guests and visiting parents.
"They were always such happy occasions. Teachers were showered with flowers, cheer and gifts," the librarian said. "What did we get? Sometimes I wonder if they even saw us." — VNS