|Two teachers at the 20-10 Kindergarten in Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội, clean up before the school reopens. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Tùng|
HÀ NỘI — Many private kindergartens in Hà Nội are facing a shortage of teachers after a year of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city allowed kindergartens to reopen from Wednesday (April 13).
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai, owner of Ánh Sao Private Kindergarten School, said teachers had to take up different jobs to earn a living after the school was closed.
Many took to selling food or clothes online or working as cashiers. They would often earn between VNĐ8-10 million (US$350-438) per month.
The attractive salaries meant many teachers chose not to return once classrooms reopen.
Teachers earn just VNĐ6-8 million ($262-350) per month at her school, Mai said.
Other teachers claimed the work is too hard, and are worried about job stability in case of further COVID outbreaks, she said.
Hằng Nga, the owner of two private kindergartens in Thanh Xuân and Cầu Giấy districts, said just 10 teachers have agreed to return to work.
Dozens of others have sought other employment with better salaries, she said.
“When I suggested they return to work, they asked for more money as the cost of living has increased,” she said.
“It has caused a problem for the owners of private kindergartens because we have to bear many costs to reopen,” she said.
Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Bích, founder of Việt Anh Private Kindergarten in Hoàng Mai District, said after Hà Nội’s Department of Education and Training allowed local kindergartens to reopen, the school started to recruit teachers.
However, it is difficult to attract them because the income of a kindergarten teacher is lower than many other jobs’, she said.
A kindergarten teacher at Thăng Long Kidsmart Private School in Cầu Giấy District, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she has already agreed to take care of a group of five children at home. All students are of pre-school age.
She also said she did not want to return to the school over concerns about the pandemic.
“The most important thing is the income from taking care of children at home is much higher than the income I could earn at the school,” she said.
Thanh Trang, the principal of TBK Private Kindergarten in Cầu Giấy District, said some teachers were taking care of children at home, earning around VNĐ10-12 million ($438-524) per month.
Trang lowered the recruitment criteria for kindergarten teachers and increased salaries by 10-15 per cent, she said.
Statistics compiled by the education department show that the city currently has 1,145 kindergartens with more than 525,000 children. Up to 158,000 are in private kindergartens, accounting for 30 per cent.
Trần Thế Cương, director of the education department, said preschools need to review their facilities, supplies and play areas to ensure safety for children before reopening.
Schools are told to clean up and spray disinfectant in all classrooms, making sure that tables, chairs and school supplies are cleaned to comply with regulations on pandemic prevention and control, he said.
Nguyễn Văn Hậu, head of the Mê Linh District's Education and Training Office, said that the office held a meeting with both public and private kindergartens, ordering them to ensure safety for children when they return.
The schools are also ordered to develop menus to ensure food safety, he said.
The schools are required to pay more attention to the mental health of children, who have not been to school for a long time, and organise activities to help them get reacquainted, he said.
Hoàng Thị Thanh Hương, head of the Preschool Education Office under the city’s education department, said eight private preschools have closed due to financial difficulties, triggered by the pandemic.
Many other private preschools are facing similar challenges, she said.
In addition to carefully reviewing facilities, the schools are told to train staff on COVID-19 prevention and control measures, she said.
The department is set to hold an online meeting with 30 Education and Training offices around the city as well as preschools to discuss remaining issues before reopening, she said. — VNS