HCM CITY — Although hundreds of thousands of university graduates fail to secure jobs, students and their families still hope to attend university at any cost—leaving vocational schools struggling to attract enough students to operate.
In the 2017 enrollment season, only 13,000 applied for 66 vocational schools in HCM City, approximately half of the number the schools could accommodate. — Photo toplist.vn
In the southern hub HCM City, where demand for skilled workers never seems to cease, the problem is particularly acute: In the 2017 enrollment season, only 13,000 applied for 66 vocational schools in HCM City, approximately half of the number the schools could accommodate, according to the city Department of Education and Training.
One school could only admit two dozen students for every major it offered.
The low number of students means a shortage of funding for operational costs and teachers’ salaries, putting these schools in a financial crisis.
“It hurts when we have to consider closing down. We have greatly invested money, time and efforts and poured our hearts into education, but without sufficient students, we are doomed,” Phương Nam post-secondary vocational school deputy rector Đào Thị Ngọc told Thanh niên (Young People) newspaper.
‘Short-term for long-term’
Some schools refused to idly wait for the end to come.
Tây Sài Gòn school has opened an English-Computer Centre to teach both its vocational students and outside learners in an effort to generate more income for the school.
“The school also opened short courses on electricity engineering or tailoring, of which the tuition fees could cover about 60 per cent of the school’s operational costs,” Tây Sài Gòn school rector Nguyễn Khắc Thương said.
Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh Economic and Technical vocational school also resorted to opening evening courses at the school and contracted firms to teach tailoring-fashion design, computer engineering or motorbike repair, said deputy rector Võ Thanh Liêm.
He added that the school earned an extra VNĐ500 million (US$22,000) from those short-term courses, supporting the school through difficult times to maintain its vocational training in the long-term.
HCM City authorities, in the meantime, were encouraging educational institutions, from kindergartens to vocational schools, to make interest-free loans under the support of the city budget to improve their educational quality.
Such loan is an opportunity for the struggling vocational schools to renovate themselves in order to attract more students.
Phương Nam school deputy rector Đào Thị Ngọc said that the school planned to borrow some money to buy equipment for the nursery course and to build new facilities.
HCM City Science and Technology vocational school rector Đặng Văn Sáng also considered borrowing the money to expand the school and better equip the school’s nursery and cooking courses.
“When the students can access good educational conditions and learn skills which are in high demand, they will be able to find jobs very quickly after graduation. It will help the school attract more students,” Sáng said.
“In order to survive, we must change.” — VNS