|Teachers and students at Tuổi Thơ Kindergarten in HCM City’s District 8 in March 2021, before the fourth wave of the pandemic forced all preschools in the city to close. — VNA/VNS Photo Thu Hoài|
HCM CITY — Many private preschools in HCM City will continue to face teacher shortages when schools reopen.
According to the latest data from the city’s Department of Education and Training, more than 150 private preschools have been dissolved or are in the process of dissolution, leading to a shortage of classrooms.
The schools could no longer afford to pay salaries for teachers and other staff due to financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 12,000 officials and teachers in the education and training sector have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, including 10,000 people at the preschool level.
Hà Thanh Hải, deputy head of District 7’s education and training sub-department, told Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper that a preschool teacher shortage was likely, especially at private preschools and family-based daycare facilities.
Tạ Ngọc Việt, owner of Trúc Việt Kindergarten in Bình Tân District, said that most preschools, especially non-public ones, are eager to reopen soon.
“However, it will be very difficult because they cannot hire enough teachers, if the school reopens at this time,” he said.
His kindergarten currently has two campuses in the city. The school was not able to guarantee sufficient salaries for teachers due to the pandemic, so many teachers had to find other jobs.
"If there is a decision on when schools reopen, we will have to close one campus because of financial problems and lack of teachers,” he said.
An owner of A.N. Kindergarten in Thủ Đức City said he had to shelve his plan on developing a "green" preschool and setting up a library as the school has been severely affected by the pandemic.
At first, the school tried to hold out, paying the basic salary for more than 15 teachers and staff, and then reducing it to 50 per cent.
“But later, we couldn't try anymore," he said.
The owner of a kindergarten in District 7 said if the school reopens, it will take a long time to recruit enough teachers.
"After a few months of paying daily wages for teachers, with three days a week teaching online, many teachers were forced to quit their jobs,” she said.
The city’s economy has been developing rapidly and attracting a huge number of migrant workers, leading to challenges in ensuring a sufficient number of kindergartens and other schools near industrial parks and export processing zones for workers’ children.
In recent years, the city increased its budget allocation for preschool education and called on the private sector to invest in building kindergartens to meet demand.
In the 2021-22 academic year, preschool students have been out of school due to the pandemic.
The total number of preschool-aged children attending school is about 339,300, an increase of 5,140 children compared to the previous school year.
About 54 per cent of them study at private preschools. The city has 920 private preschools with 16,260 teachers and more than 183,400 children, an increase of nearly 3,600 children compared to the previous school year.
Lương Thị Hồng Điệp, head of the Department of Education and Training's Preschool Education Division, said the department has asked public schools in Thủ Đức City and districts to provide the most favourable conditions for children who have had to transfer to their schools.
The city will also help preschool teachers who have lost their jobs to move to operating private preschools that need more teachers.
The department has proposed financial support for preschool teachers and students, with aid to be given first to preschools located near industrial parks and export processing zones.
Under the proposal, preschool teachers would receive VNĐ800,000 (US$35) monthly and preschool students VNĐ160,000 ($7) monthly.
The city is working to develop an appropriate support regime for teachers and other non-teaching staff working during their probationary periods who have not received support. — VNS