Kids take extra classes despite an official ban

Published: 14/04/2011 05:00



Viet Nam, extra classes are taken for granted – for children already attending
school. But now, five-year-olds who have just “graduated” from kindergarten are
being taken to pre-school classes.

Students are in class
at Xuan Thuy Primary School in central Quang Binh Province’s Xuan Thuy District.
Besides attending school, primary students often have to take extra classes.
(Photo: VNS)

Although there is
still nearly half a year left to the new school year, the race has begun to find
good schools and good teachers. It also means pushing children to learn the
alphabet and develop good hand writing in special classes.

No one, including
teachers and parents, seems to take much notice of an official ban on the
practice, declared by the Ministry of Education and Training in September 2009.

The ban on pre-school
classes is simply not working. It was aimed at avoiding harmful effects on
children’s health and erasing any unfair advantages pre-school studies may give

All parties involved
have their own reasons for keeping the new pre-school tradition alive.

“I don’t
think I am doing something wrong,” said one teacher. “The Ministry

bans us from forcing children to go to our classes, but what if this is the
parents’ will? We even have their application letters asking us to help their
children out.”

The teacher was upset
that doctors can work in other clinics in their extra time, while teachers
cannot teach extra classes in their free time.

This teacher, who is
an excellent primary school teacher, has an extremely busy schedule trying to
fit in two extra classes a day, which brings his earnings to about VND50 million
(US$2,380) a month.

With such an income,
it is unlikely he wants to stop such a handy money-making machine.

Tran Thanh Nga (not
her real name) has taught at Thanh Cong A Primary School for seven years for a
lowly VND2.5 million (US$120) per month.

She can barely make
ends meet in today’s world of inflated costs.

“My salary is not
enough to support myself and my family. It isn’t even as much as my house-keeper
gets,” said Nga.

She told Viet Nam
News that by teaching three extra Vietnamese classes a week, she could earn at
least another VND1.2 million.

She finds it hard to
say no, especially when pupils are the children from her own circle of

Many teachers are
faced with a dilemma when parents keep asking them to open extra classes to
teach their children.

Asked why parents
wanted their children to take classes even before being accepted at a primary
school, Nga said most feared that the large number of children in standard
school classes would hinder learning.

Do Minh Phuong, 31,
whose daughter will start at Nguyen Du Primary School this September, decided to
take her to a pre-school class starting next month.

Although the child
already knows the alphabet and can read stories in picture books, Phuong still
thinks it is not enough.

“Study programmes are
getting harder and harder. Preparation will be much better as it helps my
daughter overcome her shyness in the early school days,” said Phuong.

She admitted she felt
uneasy about letting her daughter stay at home while other children were taking
the special classes.

Le Tien
Thanh, Director of the Primary Education Department under the Ministry

of Education and Training, said the current primary education programme was
designed appropriately and there was no need for pupils to take extra classes.

The ministry has
instructed primary schools to cease running extra pre-school classes.

Thanh also said that
the ministry had organised frequent inspections to control pre-school classes.

“Teachers at our
school are asked to sign a commitment not to teach extra classes,” said Dinh
Thuy Duong, headmistress at Thanh Xuan Trung Primary School in Ha Noi.

Those who keep
teaching will lose their bonuses and their title of “good teacher”. Duong said
she was firmly against parents who pushed their children into pre-school

She thought the
practice harmed children by helping create bone defects and short-sightedness.

Nam News

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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