Overcrowded classrooms harm educational quality.(Photo: thanhnien.com.vn)

Quang Ninh (VNS/VNA)
- Quang Ninh province stopped recruiting teachers in March as it undertakes a restructuring of the education sector. But the number of students has kept increasing, creating new burdens for local schools.

This year, Ly Thuong Kiet Primary School in Uong Bi city received 90 new students, while five teachers are on maternity leave. The school had to merge five classes into four, with more than 40 students per class. Principals and vice principals teach nearly 16 lessons a week, eight times higher than the regulated number.

“Even members of the school board are requested to deliver lectures all throughout the day due to the lack of teachers,” said Dao Thi Bich Thuy, principal of the Ly Thuong Kiet Primary School.

According to Quang Ninh province's Department of Education and Training (DoET), there are 73,328 grade one students in the province’s schools this year, 4,468 more incoming students than the province saw last year. But during the provincial education sector’s restructuring, aimed at managing teacher quality and reducing the province’s payroll, hiring has been frozen. Ha Long city, Mong Cai city and Quang Yen town are among the localities suffering from this policy.

At Yen Thanh Primary School in Uong Bi city, five teachers have recently retired or transferred to other schools and three others are on maternity leave. School management has been neglected since all committee members are busy with teaching.

According to Tran Nam Hai, deputy head of Uong Bi city's Division of Education and Training, this school year the city has gained about 1,000 new students while losing 60 teachers.

“A teacher cannot pay attention to all 40 to 45 students in one class,” Hai said. “Similarly, at kindergartens, two to three teachers cannot take care of 60 children at the same time. Crowded classrooms are harmful to student health,” Hai added.
Vu Lien Oanh, director of Quang Ninh province's DoET, confirmed the lack of teachers. But she said the province wasn’t responsible.

“The department only controls the number of high school teachers while teachers of secondary and primary schools are managed by local agencies,” she said. “We have only asked schools to temporarily stop recruiting teachers while the payroll reform takes place. Local DoETs can recruit teachers after reviewing the human resources of schools.”

Hai said that schools were not permitted to recruit new teachers and could not attract any contract teachers - those who sign short-term teaching contracts and are not included in a school’s payroll - with the low wages offered.

Ha Long city enrolled 2,500 new students this year. The shortage of teachers here also forced schools to merge classes, leading to drastic overcrowding.

A representative of Ha Long city DoET said that many schools in the city have had to convert their function rooms to classrooms. They also made a new teacher recruitment plan and are waiting for it to be approved.

According to the Ha Long city People’s Committee, 19 principals have given up their offices to serve as classrooms.-VNA