Vietnam should raise salaries for teachers first and foremost if it wants to put in place a comprehensive reform of the education system, veteran educators have said in response to the government’s call for an education restructuring.
Local teachers receive a modest average income of VND3 million (US$144) to VND3.5 million ($168) a month, whereas teaching novices are currently paid a mere VND2 million ($96), says a report by a national society of former teachers.
It adds that a teacher with more than 13 years of experience can only earn as much as VND5 million ($240) per month, while a fresh university graduate will pocket that amount if he chooses to work in the private sector.
The average income is twice as low as the personal income tax threshold – already meager given current soaring prices – that lawmakers are pushing the National Assembly to ratify, Professor Hoang Tuy, an 85-year-old educator, complained.
Prof. Tuy said that teachers thus should be remunerated better if the education system is to be reformed.
“Efforts to improve our education will not pay off without raising teachers’ salary,” he insisted. “Our current salary policy amounts to nothing other than an affront to educators.”
Professor Vu Hoan, a former college lecturer who now chairs the Hanoi Union of Science and Technology Associations, recommended checking the education budget again and then constructing a more competitive new remuneration package for teachers.
Fairness should be ensured during that process, Associate Professor Khong Doan Dien, another seasoned lecturer, said.
Dr. Nghiem Dinh Vy, a former president of the Hanoi National University of Education, suggested that the average salary for teachers should not be lower than that for government employees.
Teachers should be compensated in accordance with their labor, Dr. Vy added.
A survey released in July said that elementary school teachers have to work 1.5 times more than the 40-hour weekly limit capped by the government, whereas middle and high school teachers often spend up to 70 hours a week on teaching and other related duties.
Dr. Vy also proposed that more benefits and allowances be granted to teachers who volunteer to teach in disadvantaged areas for a long time.
Dr. Vu Trong Ry, with the Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences, warned that teachers will not have the drive to continue teaching if salary remains a challenging issue.
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