Parents of preschool students in Ho Chi Minh City are feeling ‘dizzy’ because their kids must attend numerous extra-curricular classes, also called ‘talent classes’ in some schools, featuring a number of subjects such as painting, music, and even martial arts.
“Schools have opened many extra-curricular classes while many preschool children can’t even pronounce well,” one parent complained.
“My kid has been in kindergarten for around one month,” she added. “He has not even gotten acquainted with the main schedule and still does not want to go to school, so how can he attend any extra-curricular classes?”
Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper correspondents have investigated and recorded the fact that most preschools in the city have extra-curricular or ‘talent classes’ that cost even more than the main courses.
“Last year I sent my kid to three extra-curricular classes including organ, painting and English,” T., whose child studies at a famous preschool in Phu Nhuan District, said.
“After a year learning those, she couldn’t remember anything so I did not register her for any of those kinds of classes this year, but her teacher keeps asking me whether I have registered my child,” she added.
The teacher said learning extra-curricular subjects will be good for her kid, T. shared.
Talent classes are often organized after 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, with two sessions per week. Each session lasts around 30 to 45 minutes.
At many preschools, teachers have asked parents to send their kids to as many classes as they can, while some allow students to take part in a maximum of three subjects.
M., a parent from Go Vap District, signed her child up for five extra-curricular classes.
“The school has not announced the extra-curricular schedule so I have no idea how my kid studies at school,” M. said. “Those classes cost four times more than the main courses.”
T. Thuy, another parent from District 3, added that she is not sure if her daughter wants to study at school since she is very little.
At several schools where too many ‘talent classes’ have been run, students who do not register for the classes have to leave the classrooms, which are for their registered friends to study those subjects.
A principal of a preschool in Binh Thanh District said students who do not join the extra classes will take part in outdoor activities or play in the corner of the room if it rains.
“Parents should let them into those classes,” she added. “It would be better for them.”
The situation has raised eyebrows and prompted questions from parents on why extra-curricular classes are held when the main courses are supposed to be going on, and why children not registered for those ‘talent classes’ have to leave the room.
Almost all preshools offering extra-curricular classes in Ho Chi Minh City enjoy cooperation with local talent clubs and centers.
This arrangement works as schools provide facilities and students, while the centers offer programs and teachers.
The benefits will be divided between the two sides based on their own agreements.
One preschool said its split is 50-50, while a smaller school in Binh Thanh District gets just 30 percent of the profit from the cooperation.
At some schools, teachers also receive commission or gifts if they convince parents to send their children to these classes.
“In fact, not every teacher gets a commission or gift to force parents to register their kids,” a preschool principal said.
However, some teachers let the material benefits persuade them and keep forcing parents to bring their kids to the classes, he added.
“At preschools parents are not afraid of the principals, but they are afraid of the teachers who directly take care of their kids,” he shared.
According to Dr. Phan Thi Thu Hien, dean of the faculty of pre-school education of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy, the dense extra-curricular program will have a negative effect on children physically and psychologically.
She said that the main program for students in preschool has seven different subjects which offer knowledge about many topics, so the extra-curricular classes can only play an additional role.
Nguyen Thi Kim Dung, head of preschool education at the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training, admited that the extra-curricular teaching has helped to discover young talent and meet demand from parents who are unable to send their kids to talent clubs or centers.
“However, schools have to ensure the rooms for those extra classes as well as pay attention to managing them,” she stated. “They also need to remind their teachers not to suggest or force parents to send their kids to these classes.”
“Each student is not allowed to study more than three extra subjects per week,” she added.