May 10, 2012

Vietnam - Parents draw lots for kindergarten spaces

VietNamNet Bridge – Due to the critical shortage of kindergarten places in Ha Noi, parents will be forced to draw lots this year – instead of queuing for hours from the crack of dawn as in previous years.

The casting of lots has been tried before at the country's top kindergartens such as Chu Van An, Kim Lien and Thanh Cong A, but this would be the first time it has been applied to all pre-schools in the capital, said Pham Thi Hong Nga, deputy director of the municipal Department of Education and Training.

"This format is being applied more widely because we felt that the system used before was unfair," Nga said.

However, many parents are incensed that their children's future should be determined by chance.

Le Mai Phuong, from Hoang Mai District, said the casting lots was unjust and ridiculous.

"If parents are unlucky and pick a losing ticket, what then? Where will their children study?" she said.

Phuong said she would much rather queue up for a place at her chosen kindergarten than leave things to chance.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Minh Trang, from Thanh Xuan District, said the drawing of lots could encourage fraud.

"Some parents will be able to bribe principals or vice-principals for a place at their kindergarten, and there's no one in a position to know," she said.

There are currently 830 kindergartens in Ha Noi, 700 of which are State run, according to the Ha Noi Department of Education and Training.

The department said 85 per cent of youngsters in the capital enrol at a State kindergarten each school year. As a result, classrooms are heavily overcrowded. It is not uncommon to have 60 young children in a class, with the number rising to 80 at popular kindergartens.

"To ensure that schools meet the regulated 8 sq m per student in urban areas and 15 sq m per student in rural areas by 2015 the city needs to build more than 200 kindergartens," Nga said.

The local authority has stipulated that each ward should have at least two State-run kindergartens. Despite the regulation, six wards in Dong Da and Hai Ba Trung districts are without a kindergarten.

Nga added that the department had asked the municipal People's Committee to build more kindergartens in the two districts, which it has agreed to.

Kindergarten enrolment runs from July 2 to 16.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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