Low Pay for Teachers Harms
Education in Vietnam

Ngoc Lien Nguyen

     Luckily for all people who live in developed countries, educators can be proud of their profession and live on their own salaries. Meanwhile, in some developing countries like Vietnam, teachers struggle to earn a living and their salary is barely sufficient for their plain breakfasts. Living in a developed country like the U.S., some people canít imagine how the low salary for educators causes many terrible abuses. For this reason, Educators' salary in Vietnam is a serious issue. The low salary of teachers in Vietnam lowers educational standards and generates corruption in education.

     The degradation of educational quality in Vietnam is a direct result of low teacher pay. When my young sons were going to school in Vietnam a few years ago, an educator's salary in Vietnam was so low that some of the teachers couldnít even pay their basic living expenses such as water and electric bills. Therefore, most of them sought outside income to supplement their low salaries. Consequently, they were not able to teach a regular schedule, nor did they go to school every day. Furthermore, low salaries killed any motivation to exert extra effort, and they didnít even think about looking for new teaching methods or materials. Sometimes, their classes were not revised for decades, so students couldnít gain new knowledge and they realized that what they were learning in school was useless. Moreover, because the salary was too low, only incompetent people were attracted to the teaching profession, which aggravated the situation. Besides, the low salary also attracted dishonest teachers who had other schemes to earn more money in dishonest ways.

     The low pay given to teachers also led to corruption throughout the educational system in Vietnam. Because of their low salaries, teachers usually created some bogus school fees and demanded certain financial contributions. For example, they would require fees for construction, but the school had already been built and there were no plans for further construction. Teachers also required parents to pay for services that should be free such as fees for holding in-class meetings, fees for the review session, and fees for drinking water while the drinking water container was always empty and students had to bring their own water. In addition, some teachers didnít teach anything in class and forced students to get private tutoring. That meant if students wanted to pass that teacherís class, they had to go to that teacherís house and pay money for private tutoring from that teacher. Otherwise, they would fail that class even though they were outstanding students. Likewise, in my childrenís case, when they were going to preschool, besides the tuition that I paid every month, I had to give money to each teacher each month in each class to prevent my children from being beaten by the teachers. The low salary seemingly caused the teachers to lose their honor and dignity. Furthermore, they would sell advance information about examinations and even took money for grades. These terrible abuses damaged the educational system in Vietnam; people could buy fake diplomas, and then they got managerial positions and supervised others. Finally, the whole system was corrupt.

     Overall, the low salary for educators caused serious problems in education which harmed moral education, degraded ethical values and obstructed human development in Vietnam. Thus, I think the government in Vietnam needs to take some strong measures to raise the teachersí salaries. Also, competent and honest teachers should stand up and  fight corruption in education to rescue the future of their country.