VietNamNet Bridge – Higher wages and better working conditions are vital for teachers to enhance their professional skills, said participants at a conference here yesterday, held to promote the role of teachers in a sustainable educational environment.
According to experts, expectations of students and parents for better-quality education can only be met depending upon the efforts and capabilities of teachers, but unfavourable wage and working conditions hinder their performance.
The director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Viet Nam, Gyorgy Sziraczki said the country had a long tradition and culture of respect towards teachers, yet many remained underpaid and were forced to work under poor conditions. Teachers in mountainous areas even found themselves going to each family and persuading them to let their children attend school, he said.
Teachers needed to be provided with supportive environments in order to fulfil their roles, agreed Dr. Katherine Muller-Marin, UNESCO representative in Viet Nam. But they also needed to develop a wide range of professional skills in teaching, planning, assessment and interpersonal relationships, she said, adding that the profession required people who were flexible, open to self-renewal and lifelong learners.
Dinh Phuong Anh, a teacher at Le Ngoc Han Secondary School in Ha Noi, said teacher salaries were too low for them to be devoted to the job. A newly-graduated teacher earns just VND2 million (US$95) which only doubles after 20 years of work experience. This compares unfavourably to the starting wage of VND5 million ($238) that a new graduate can earn as an administrative assistant with a company.
In order to survive in major cities, many teachers had to have additional part-time jobs, Anh said, giving them no chance to update their knowledge or hone their skills. They received no encouragement to renew teaching methodologies. A one-year effort to write an initiative on renewing the literature curriculum was compensated just VND150,000 ($7), she said.
Ha Thi Hien, a lecturer at the Ha Noi School of Public Health, agreed that few teachers had a chance to improve their English skills in order to access materials on the internet that might help them improve their teaching quality. Many teachers ended up seeming backward even to their students.
Conference participants agreed to the need for urgent action and greater investment to boost the professional status of teachers and attract people to become teachers.
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