Things you don’t know about multitasking Vietnamese teachers outside their class time

The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines “teacher” as “a person whose job is teaching” but what teachers in Vietnam are really doing is way beyond the mission of teaching.

It should not be a surprise to know that besides teaching, Vietnamese teachers are also responsible for a huge amount of paperwork, traffic management, or even working as school cashiers.

Traffic management

In August, the Ministry of Education and Training issued a plan on educating students on road safety in the 2015-16 school year.

According to the plan, the ministry requires all students to wear crash helmets while traveling on motorbikes, as well as not to drink beer or alcohol while riding.

However, Minh Quan, who told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as a teacher that it is unreasonable to make students’ traffic law compliance a school regulation.

It should not be an indicator to appraise schools at the end of the academic year as well as to penalize those schools whose students break the traffic law, Quan added.

It will put more pressure, the teacher explained, on teachers as they have to supervise students to make sure that they do not violate regulations on traffic safety.

Quan warned that making road safety a school rule could result in untrue reports at the end of the academic year, saying it is too hard for teachers to look over their students and detect their violations like traffic police officers.

“It’s hilarious to judge students’ morality in school based on their traffic law violations. It’s even more absurd to conclude if teachers complete their mission in a school year on the basis of their students’ road conduct,” the teacher said. “Please don’t appraise teachers with sideline criteria.”

School cashiers

As a new school year starts, school fees are not only a burden for students and parents but also for teachers who are tasked with collecting the sums.

Le Anh, a high school teacher from Da Nang, who wrote to Tuoi Tre to describe the difficulty she and other teachers have faced being their schools’ cashiers.

According to Anh, schools have financial departments in charge of collecting compulsory fees such as tuition, uniform costs, and others.

However, teachers, no matter if they want to do it or not, are assigned to receive contributions from parents and students to their school’s funds to support education or health care.

Other kinds of fees teachers have to collect include parking fees, overtime pay, and money contributed by seniors to buy souvenirs for schools.

Several schools even ask their teachers to collect money for students’ health insurance, which is a compulsory fee.

Many schools set the target for the amount a teacher should collect and the deadline for the collection, or they even consider all this an indicator to judge teachers’ performance, creating more pressure on them.

The quality of teaching and studying becomes lower, as teachers have to spend time reminding their students to pay the fees, instead of doing their main and lofty mission of teaching.

As a result, students and parents have gradually lost respect for teachers.

On the other hand, teachers who keep their self-respect and the passion for teaching do not give a priority to collecting money in their classroom, willing to be disciplined for not achieving the school’s target.

Meanwhile, students whose families cannot afford the contributions come to class afraid of being ashamed in front of their friends, or trying to avoid meeting teachers.

Multi-subject teachers

Numerous middle school teachers in Da Nang have complained that they have to cover many subjects due to the lack of teachers.

T.T., a chemistry teacher from a school in Cam Le District who has to teach home economics, said she has eight classes of chemistry and four classes of home economics for the 6th grade this year.

According to T., since her major is chemistry teaching, she was nervous when she was assigned to teach home economics.

“I was annoyed at first but am getting used to it now,” T. said. “Our school has many chemistry teachers but lacks home economics teachers so we have no choice.”

Meanwhile, M.D., a literature teacher from a school in Thanh Khe District, said she is now getting used to teaching another subject, civics.

Dang Nhon, deputy head of Da Nang’s Hai Chau District Office of Education and Training, said all 12 middle schools in the district have seen their teachers cover subjects outside their majors.

The main reason, according to him, is that universities and colleges have stopped training “compound teachers” who can teach a combination of two subjects like math-home economics, physics-home economics, and literature-civics.

Meanwhile, schools which still run training courses to churn out such teachers have received no application.

“In the future, subjects like civics and home economics will be very important because they are close to our daily life,” Nhon said. “So it’s necessary to consider training teachers for those subjects.”

To solve the problem, the office has sent those multi-subject teachers to short-term courses or vocational schools where they could get extra training to be more confident in class.

Chemistry teacher Ton Nu Nhat Vu is seen teaching in her home economics class at Nguyen Hue Middle School in Da Nang. Photo:Tuoi Tre

Paperwork

Another issue is the large amount of paperwork teachers have to do besides their teaching.

Many have complained they are overwhelmed and have no time to improve their teaching skills or help their students make progress.

N.M.P., a teacher at Tu Kiet High School in the southern province of Tien Giang’s Cai Lay District, said she has to keep 14 different kinds of records and reports, including indoor and outdoor lesson plans, student scores, plans for meetings, and more.

Many readers who appear to be teachers also wrote to Tuoi Tre to whine that they have to prepare numerous types of records, which consumes a lot of time and yields minimal pedagogical results.

“Besides the useless records and reports, teachers have much more necessary things to do, including preparing lesson plans, marking papers, correcting students’ mistakes, encouraging those students who have dropped out to get back to school,” a reader named Nguyen Cao said in his letter to the newspaper.

A caricature shows a Vietnamese teacher being dragged back by a large amount of paperwork she has to do in addition to teaching. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Source: Tuoi Tre News
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