Illustrative photo (Source: tuoitrenews.vn)
HCM City (VNA) – The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has sought approval from the municipal People’s Council for a programme to subsidise non-public early childhood education.

The two-year programme will seek to encourage the setting up of private nurseries and kindergartens and upgrade of their facilities and equipment by subsidising their loan interest for up to five years.

There is a severe shortage of private early childhood education facilities in the city, especially in industrial parks and export processing zones.

Private nurseries and kindergartens in need of upgrading infrastructure and buying equipment to meet requirements for a licence can borrow up to 200 million VND (8,900 USD) with the interest fully subsidised.

If the programme is approved, the municipal Departments of Finance and Education and Training will help district people’s committees implement it.

The city has 12 industrial parks and export processing zones with around 300,000 workers, including 80,000 who have children aged under six.

Most public pre-schools are overcrowded and only admit children whose families have permanent registration in the city.

Workers are often forced to send their children to unlicensed private nurseries and kindergartens with high fees and the potential risk of violent care givers.

A recent survey of 618 workers at the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone in District 7 found that more than 500 of them with children aged between six months and five years wanted to send them to school even on Saturdays. Nearly 200 hoped their children could be in school until 6pm daily.

Nguyen Thi Thuy Nga, deputy head of the Thu Duc district Education and Training Office, said that kindergartens in the district are trialling a model with six classrooms working two shifts from 6am to 2pm and 2pm to 9pm.

The model is being tried with children aged less than three years, Nga said.

Teachers get overtime wages of 10,000-20,000 VND per hour per child, which are paid by the parents since there is no policy in place for such overtime payments, according to an official form the municipal Department of Finance.

Nguyen Thi Kim Thuy, deputy chairwoman of the Thu Duc district People’s Committee, said organisations, unions and companies should subsidise overtime payments to meet workers’ needs.

Since 2013, the city People’s Committee has approved 22 new pre-schools and kindergartens in industrial parks and export processing zones.

However, while many has been built, most have not opened due to lack of personnel.

Two new kindergartens in Linh Trung 1 and 2 Export Processing Zones in Thu Duc district need 169 regualr staff, Nga said.

By the city has cut staff numbers for the district by 160 this year, she stated. “It is impossible for existing schools to cut staff as the number of students are increasing every year”.

Binh Tan district will have an additional 250 classrooms with 10,349 students in the 2016-17 school year, according to its education and training office.

But, again, this year the district has had 100 regular staff cut from its payroll of 3,105.

It faces difficulties allocating regular staff to schools. Ngo Van Tuyen, head of the office, said.

He urged city authorities to allocate an additional 694 teachers to public schools in the district, including 44 teachers for new schools.

The city People’s Committee has instructed all districts to cut their overall payroll by 5 percent this year.

In case of new schools and hospitals, local authorities have to seek approval from the Department of Home Affairs to add regular staff.-VNA