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HCM City education authorities tell schools to negotiate tuition fees for closure period with parents

The HCM City Department of Education and Training has told private schools to negotiate with students’ parents the tuition fees they need to pay for the closure period following complaints that many schools are demanding unreasonable amounts.

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Hundreds of parents of students at the Vietnam Australia International School (VAS) in HCM City protest in front of the school on May 5 about tuition fees payable during the closure period. — Photo phunuonline.com.vn

Following the coronavirus outbreak, city schools never reopened after the Lunar New Year holidays in late-January. They have only started to reopen now. During the period, some offered online classes, but are demanding that students should pay the full fees.

Hundreds of parents recently gathered at a private international school to protest about the fees they had been told to pay when schools had been shut and children remained at home.

Le Hoai Nam, deputy director of the Department of Education and Training, said the department had received complaints and officials had held a meeting with parents and would next meet with the school to resolve the dispute. 

“Tuition fees must be agreed upon between the schools and parents.”

He said the department could not interfere with tuition fee collection by international schools.

“Private schools’ fees are prescribed in the Enterprise Law and Decree 86 on fee collection.”

Parents of children at many private schools have been complaining that the schools are demanding payment of full fees for the closed period including for lunch and bus services. 

On May 5 nearly 300 parents of children studying at the Vietnam Australia International School went to the school to demand a meeting with officials after their petitions were ignored. 

They had received a notice demanding the payment of full fees though students did not go to school and studied online during the closure period from late January. The school collects VND143-425 million (US$6,144-18,260) per year.

VAS said at first that though students did not attend school, it still had to pay salaries to teachers and staff.

It later announced a 70 per cent reduction. 

But most parents refused to pay even the 30 per cent, saying studying online “is not as good as direct learning.”

Students had six hours of Vietnamese lessons a week, 40 minutes of English and 4.5 hours of maths, and the parents are protesting that VND25 million ($1,080) a month is too much for this.

Some of them went to the department to seek its help. 

Pham Duc Cuong, one of them, said: “We are aware the pandemic is difficult for everyone. We want to have a dialogue with the school to come up with a proper solution.”

Two hundred of the parents recently submitted a complaint to the city People’s Committee. VNS  

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