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Public schools should start at 7:30 am in HCM City: parents say

Students would get at least 30 minutes of extra sleep and have time to have breakfast at home if the school time is adjusted.

Many HCM City parents have proposed that public schools start half an hour later than the current 7 am to give children more time to sleep and have breakfast before school.

A father of two primary students in District 12 said he must take his two children to school every morning at 6:30 am.

"It means that my children have to wake up at 5:30 am, then do their personal hygiene and have breakfast," he said.

Sometimes, if the children wake up after 5:30 am, he has to buy them bread to eat when they are on the way to school.

A father of two seventh graders in Võ Trường Toản Secondary School in District 1 said the school asked the students to be present at 6:45 am, 15 minutes before the first class starts.

"It's too early because the children have to wake up very early if they want to eat breakfast," he said.

N.V.H., a father of a sixth grader in Nguyễn Du Secondary School in Gò Vấp District, said at the beginning of the school year 2022-23, he was stunned when he was told his son had to be at school at 6:45 am, 15 minutes before the first class starts.

"I really don't understand why the school schedules for students to go to school so early," he said.

M., a mother of a primary student in Đặng Văn Ngữ School, Phú Nhuận District said: "Why doesn't the school set a start time at least 7:30 am?"

Students would get at least 30 minutes of extra sleep and have time to have breakfast at home, she said.

Explanations

Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Hạnh, principal of Võ Trường Toản Secondary School, spoke to Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) online newspaper. Hạnh said that the school's start time is at 7 am to avoid traffic jams at the school gate.

The school is located on Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm Street – a short street with five schools. To avoid traffic congestion, it has to stagger its start times with the other schools.

Trương Thị Đẹp, principal of Nguyễn Du Secondary School, said the school's start time at 7 am daily had been implemented for many years.

She said there were fewer traffic jams at that time, and it was convenient for parents to go to work at 7:15 am or 7:30 am.

Trịnh Vĩnh Thanh, Head of Education and Training Office of Gò Vấp District, also said the start time of schools at 7 am daily had existed for a long time.

The start time of students was relevant to the working time of local agencies and companies, he said.

If students go to school after 7 am, many parents would be late for work because most of the parents have to be present at their workplace at 8 am, even 7:45 am in some workplaces, he said.

Experts' comments

Nguyễn Thanh Danh, Chairman of the HCM City Nutrition Institute's Scientific Council, said that children must have breakfast to have enough energy to study.

He said that after eating, it takes at least 10-15 minutes for the food to digest.

"Therefore, eating breakfast in a hurry is not good, especially if breakfast is eaten sat on their parents' vehicles on the way to go to school," he said.

A lack of food and sleep is now common among students, according to Danh.

This causes impaired brain activity, reduced resistance, susceptibility to infections, and affects learning performance.

Trương Hữu Khanh, former head of the Infectious and Nervous Diseases Department at HCM City-based Children's Hospital No 1, said that children going to school too early for a long time would lead to sleep deprivation due to not getting enough sleep.

"So, when setting a rule, let's put the interests of children first," he said.

He said schools should not set up regulations that adversely affect children's development.

The earliest start time of the school should be 7:30 am, he said.

School's start time in other countries

Research conducted by the United States National Centre for Education Statistics (NCES) during the 2017-18 school year shows that 40 per cent of schools in the country set a start time of 8-8:29 am.

The study was conducted on approximately 10,600 public and 4,000 private schools in most states. Accordingly, the average start time of public high schools is 8 am.

NCES also found that high schools with fewer students tend to go to school later. Specifically, the average start time of schools with less than 100 students and schools with 100 - 199 students is 8:12 am and 8:15 am, respectively.

In Japan, schools usually open at 8 am, and the day's first class starts at 8:30 am. Similarly, in Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, school starts at 8:30 am.

In South Korea, the first class usually starts around 8 am. Each class will last 50 minutes. The afternoon session usually starts at 1 am and ends at 4:30 pm. In Thailand, public schools usually start between 8- 8:30 am. In Malaysia, schools usually start after 7:30 am. — VNS

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