The Hanoitimes – Unilaterally imposed tuition fees have angered parents to the point that they have organized mass protests in front of some schools in Hanoi.
In the past few weeks, parents of pupils at many international schools in Hanoi have opposed to the fees set by some schools for online classes during their closure to prevent Covid-19 pandemic.
Although classes were suspended in the months of the pandemic, the schools still want parents to pay full tuition, even no expenses for meals, transport and other services were incurred during the school closure.
According to many parents, payment of tuition fees during the epidemic shutdown, either in full or in part, has not been the result of negotiations between schools and parents.
Parents of an international school in Hanoi gather to oppose online course fee during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: DNQ
Many schools decided online tuition fees unilaterally
Facing the complaints, each school is taking different solutions but none has satisfied the parents.
Singapore International School (SIS) is known to be one of the most expensive schools in Hanoi. Its tuition fees range between VND185 million and VND405 million (US$8,004 – 17,525) per year, depending on level and curriculum.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, SIS’ fees for online courses were set at 80-85% of those of classroom course, regardless of whether online classes were organized or not.
L.N, mother of two pupils at SIS Gamuda Gardens in Hoang Mai district, said that she was notified about online fees during the pandemic. Accordingly, the online fees for grade 1 and grade 2 will be equal to 80% of the regular tuition fee. For grades 4 and 5, the online tuition fee will be 85% of the face-to-face course fee.
“Tuition fees needs to be agreed between the school and parents but SIS’ tuition is not the case. It was decided unilaterally by the school. We don’t ask for fee exemption, but the 80-85% charge of VND22 million (US$952) per month is still too high because the online teaching is not as effective as the face-to-face course,” L.N told Hanoitimes .
|L.N, a parent of two pupils at Singapore International School. Photo: Ngan Nguyen|
“SIS has decided tuition level unilaterally without any agreement with parents in writing,” confirmed another parent in a SIS class.
In the face of the parents’ frustration, Ngo Thi Chi, SIS’ Regional Operation Manager in the North of Vietnam, said that the school has made every effort to ensure that students’ learning is not interrupted.
SIS has carefully applied the tuition fees in accordance with the guidelines of Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, especially taking into consideration the pandemic as the force majeure.
Dang Quoc Hoang, father of a fifth grader of an international school in the urban complex of Ciputra Hanoi, said they have filed complaints to the municipal education department since the negotiations for tuition fee during the pandemic school break failed.
Hoang added that parents understand the difficulties every one has to face due to Covid-19, including the schools. But tuition fees need to be negotiated and not set by schools unilaterally.
Unilateral school fees have angered parents to the point that they have organized mass protests in front of some schools, besides filing complaints to the municipal department of education.
Viewpoint of Hanoi Department of Education and Training
Le Ngoc Quang, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training, said that non-state schools will be allowed to collect online tuition only when an agreement is reached with parents.
Quang added that the municipal department’s view is to promptly handle and thoroughly solve the issues between the schools and parents so that they do not affect students’ learning.
“This is the first time there is a controversy over school fees due to the pandemic. We asked all parties to remain calm and seek a reasonable solution,” the deputy director told Hanoitimes .