Solving school overcrowding
Nguyen Van Chien, chief inspector of the Ministry of Education and Training, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about over-enrolments at better quality elementary and secondary schools.
How bad are overloaded classrooms for primary students in big cities?
We have carried out a survey of grade 1 classrooms in Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho and Hai Phong and found they are overloaded with students.
The situation can be seen most clearly in Ha Noi, where one classroom designed to take 35-40 students has 55-60. In some classrooms, three students must share a desk designed for two, influencing their health and studies.
Who is to blame for the problem? School administration or the education and training sector?
There is growing dissatisfaction with schools in urban areas. In Ha Noi, for example, the population is increasing, but schools are not expanding to meet demand. There are a lot of new, densly-populated urban zones without a school. This pushes a huge number of students into a few schools. Another cause of overcrowding is the natural population growth rate.
The tendency for parents to choose what they think are quality schools is another important cause. As a result, some schools have about 60 students per classroom, while others barely have enough to teach. This is a particular problem in Grade 1 (primary) and Grade 6 (secondary), when students are adjusting to a new school regime.
What is being done to solve the problem?
The Ministry of Education and Training needs to check and build an entire network of schools taking into account the increasing population and people’s demand, especially in fast growing urban areas such as Ha Noi.
Big city authorities need to set strict regulations for investors in new urban zones to build schools (as they do in many developed countries). They must stop endlessly building apartments without offering infrastructure for public service, such as schools.
To stop parents sending their children to particular schools and overloading them, teachers should be rotated and offered good working conditions in all schools. Experienced teachers should teach alongside young and inexperienced ones. The rotations should be for a particular period, with a commitment that the experienced teachers can return to their former school.
Salaries and subsidies for teachers on rotation must be ensured. Administrators should encourage good teachers to work in difficult schools. And, in big cities, they should plan to eliminate big gaps in school standards and conditions.
Many members of the public are concerned about the negative effects of overcrowding in qualified schools. What do you think?
Some people think parents bribe teachers so their children can study at top schools without having enough entrance qualifications.
However, we need clear evidence of this happening. The education and training sector cannot deal with the problem itself, but needs the co-operation of agencies and authorities.
Educating children takes much more than school work, so sending children to more qualified schools far from home is not an intelligent choice. — VNS
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