|Minister of Education and Training Nguyễn Kim Sơn. — VNA/VNS Photo|
Nguyễn Kim Sơn, Minister of Education and Training, shared his thoughts on the current situation and solutions to Việt Nam's education issues in an interview with Vietnam News Agency.
There have been 16,000 teachers who quit the job this year. What are your opinions on this issue?
According to local statistics in the first ten months of 2022, 16,000 teachers left their posts. On average, one out of every 100 teachers left the profession. This figure accounts for about 1 per cent of the total teaching force (both public and private).
The places where teachers quit the most are in southern localities such as Hồ Chí Minh City, Đồng Nai, Bình Dương and Long An, where the pandemic hit the hardest.
Some of them were forced to change jobs because nearly 1,000 preschools had to close, so it is more accurate to call this group of about 2,000 teachers unemployed. Others lost their jobs temporarily and returned to work when 1,560 private youth groups reopened at the beginning of last school year.
From another perspective, 99 per cent of teachers across the country are still doing their job. The majority are still overcoming difficulties, ensuring teaching and learning and school activities.
We cannot just look at the minority of teachers who left the profession for various reasons and had a bleak view of the education profession.
However, the number of teachers leaving and changing jobs also notifies us, that it is necessary to pay more attention to teachers, especially preschool and primary school teachers of both the public and private systems.
How can preschool teachers be supported against all these difficulties?
Currently, the average income of preschool and primary school teachers who have worked for five years after graduation is VNĐ4.5 - 4.7 million (US$181-189) per month, including salary and preferential allowances up to 35 per cent. Teachers with more than five years of tenure will have an additional seniority allowance of 5 per cent. However, for new teachers, the income is only about VNĐ3 million ($120) per month for the first two to three years.
Pre-school teachers in extremely difficult areas had a subsidy of 70 per cent, plus local allowances or allowances for teaching in specialised schools for children in need, their salary after five years can reach VNĐ6 million ($241), but the amount is still not enough.
Some teachers told me that after working for many years they receive a salary of VNĐ5 - 6 million, ($200 - 241), and had to withdraw half of it to pay for their two children's education. What is left in their account is only enough to buy necessities for about half a month. Many teachers also do part-time jobs outside of school hours.
Preschool and primary school teachers have to come to school very early to pick up students and take care of them. A working day for these teachers is often very long, and for some who live far away, it is even longer. But the salary they receive is still inadequate.
This situation requires an urgent increase in salaries and preferential allowances for teachers, especially in preschool and primary schools. And that is what we are proposing.
It is best to increase the preferential allowance for preschool teachers similar to the preferential allowance of healthcare providers or be increased at least from 35 per cent to 70 per cent, equal to healthcare providers' old preferential allowance.
I also hope that the localities will pay more to the group of teachers who teach private preschools in nurseries.
|Phạm Thị Hương, teacher of Thắng Tín Elementary & Middle School for Ethnic Minorities in Hoàng Su Phì, Hà Giang seen here teaching English. She had do double duty and teach both elementary and middle school students. — VNA/VNS Photo Nam Thái|
There are also opinions that alongside the problem of salaries, many teachers are facing a working environment that lacks sympathy and cooperation. What are your opinions on this?
There are many factors for teachers to stick with the profession, not just the salary issue. Professional development opportunities, work environment, school environment, attitudes of students and parents, society and even their own professional attitude - all of these things need to be taken care of and improved so that teachers stay with their job for long.
While waiting for the authorities to consider the salary increase and allowances for teachers, with our authority and responsibility, we continue to improve the working environment, strengthen school administration and charter, as well as improve school cultures so that teachers have a favourable working environment and promote their responsibilities as teachers.
The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) will review other policies such as work administration, professional activities, and personal development, and reduce non-professional administrative work for teachers.
Education reform is important, according to the Resolution of the Central Committee. Therefore we work hard to provide maximum support so that teachers can adjust themselves and adapt to the requirements, teaching methods, approach to the program, textbooks and how to test, evaluate, and interact with students. The change is big so it takes the education industry and the schools to support and share so that teachers can improve and serve their jobs well.
In particular, for society, parents and students must understand and help teachers. The education industry tries to support teachers, but the support must also come from society.
What is the MOET doing to help teachers keep their passion for teaching, especially teachers working in remote areas?
The education sector always appreciates the dedication of the teaching staff, especially the teachers in remote and disadvantaged areas of the country. The aforementioned recommendations and proposals on salary increase, increase in allowances for teachers, or adjustments in policies to create a more favourable working environment for teachers and also for teachers to keep their faith in the profession.
Teaching is traditionally considered a noble profession. The reason our nation honours teachers is because of the tradition of respecting morality, studying, and promoting knowledge. Taking care of teachers is developing education to develop people and develop the country.
The success or failure of the educational reform that the Party, the National Assembly and the Government are implementing is related to the success or failure of the national reform, which is determined by the teachers.
Therefore, the specific attention of the teaching staff is not only a social policy but also a development perspective and practical thinking for the development of the country.
The education sector is researching and developing the Law on Teachers. Is this a solution to help teachers become more attached to the profession, and at the same time remove some of the bottlenecks the education industry is facing?
Currently, the MOET is finalising the application for the development of the Law on Teachers, which will be transferred to the Ministry of Justice for evaluation and submission to the Government according to regulations.
With the meaning and importance of this Law project, during the construction process, the MOET will study and consider all aspects of the teaching profession in order to be able to come up with good policies for teachers.
November 20, 2022 is also the 40th anniversary of Vietnamese Teachers' Day, what would you like to share with all the teachers nationwide?
On behalf of the leadership of the MOET, I would like to send my congratulations and recognition to the teachers for their efforts in this challenging and difficult educational revolution. Hopefully, with professional responsibility and the honour of society, every teacher will try harder to overcome difficulties and challenges.
The education sector is facing many very heavy tasks and great challenges caused by educational innovations. Therefore, I hope that each of us teachers will try to overcome the challenges and complete the mission. By doing so, the teaching profession will be recognised and honoured by society. In addition, each of us teachers also needs to constantly try to improve our professional qualifications and innovate our skills to best complete the tasks. — VNS