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City falls short of lofty universal education goal

Update: April, 09/2012 - 10:50

HCM CITY — HCM City is unlikely to achieve its target of universalising pre-school education this year, with only two out of its 24 districts completing the task so far.

The Department of Education and Training (DoET) had required 23 districts to put all five-year-olds in school by the end of this year, with Tan Phu given until next May.

Districts 1, 4, 5, 6, 10, and Phu Nhuan had promised to complete the task by the first quarter.

But only Districts 5 and 10 have so far been certified as achieving the target.

DoET director Dr Huynh Cong Minh admitted that to ensure all five-year-olds attend school, another 460 classrooms are required, especially in six newly created communes in rural districts, 12 wards without kindergartens, and industrial parks.

Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, head of the Pre-school Education Office, said the city needed an additional 2,765 teachers to the current figure of 3,836 to achieve universalisation.

District education bosses also blame the failure to achieve the target on a shortage of both schools and teachers besides low awareness of the importance of pre-school education and a lack of expertise in universalising pre-school education.

Truong Ngoc Anh, head of Binh Tan District's pre-school education office, said the district has 4,358 children aged five but only 12 public pre-schools, 30 private schools, and 66 private classes.

Three of its wards do not have a single kindergarten.

"A shortage of teachers has delayed enrolment of five-year children," Anh said.

Tran Bich Ngoc, deputy head of the District 7 Education Office, said there was a shortage of classrooms.

The district administration has already earmarked many places for the construction of kindergartens but the work has been delayed since these sites have yet to be acquired, she said.

Tan Phu faces the most difficulties in completing the task, according to Chung Bich Phuong, deputy head of the district's Education Office.

Many families living in the district are migrants without residential books or registration, so it is very difficult for authorities to figure out the number of children of pre-school age and bring them to school, she said.

The district also has a shortfall of 85 classrooms, while three wards have no kindergartens, she said.

The district has around 6,030 children aged five while it has only 10 public kindergartens with a capacity of 5,500, she said.

To ensure five-year-olds went to school, all 10 of them refused to enrol children aged below that in the 2010-11 school year.

District education officials expected enrolment in kindergartens to become more contentious this year because most would give priority to five-year-olds in view of the target.

Tran Kim Thanh, deputy director of the Department of Education and Training, said as a short-term measure, in some districts, kindergartens would be shared by wards to resolve the shortage of classes. — VNS

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