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Mar 23, 2024 / 21:52

Hanoi tackles overcrowded classrooms

Hanoi's education department has proposed adding more floors to schools to address the problem of large class sizes.

The Hanoi People's Committee has asked district people's committees to ensure enough seats for students and to avoid overcrowded classrooms in the 2024-2025 school year.

In addition, the department demanded that the human resources, facilities, and equipment for the examinations and enrollment of students be well prepared. The supervision of examinations must be strengthened and tightened, and violations must be strictly dealt with. Especially in online enrollment, the role of digital transformation in examinations and enrollment must be effectively utilized.

A short break of students in Nghia Tan Secondary School in Hanoi's Cau Giay District. Photo: Pham Hung/The Hanoi Times

The city government also asked the people's committees to supervise enrollment in 2024 so that educational institutions cannot enroll students beyond their quotas. Queuing and jostling at schools for enrollment must be stopped.

Statistics from the Hanoi Department of Education and Training show that in the 2022-2023 school year, the capital city has 2,835 schools with more than 70,000 classrooms for 2.2 million students.

In 2023, Hanoi built 51 more classrooms at a cost of over VND2.8 trillion (US$119.6 million) and spent VND5 trillion (US$213.5 million) to repair 605 schools. However, since the start of the 2023-2024 school year, many parts of the city have been facing overcrowded schools.

Pham Quoc Toan, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Education and Training, told The Hanoi Times that the number of primary school students is expected to increase by 30,000 compared to last year.

Some districts in the capital have exhausted their land reserve for public school construction, Toan said, adding that his department has proposed expanding schools to address the problem of large class sizes.

"If the city government does not build more schools, classroom overcrowding will increase. As a result, many primary schools have had to increase the number of students per class to 60, while the standard number set by the ministry is 35," Toan said.

Figures from the department show that Hanoi's Ha Dong, Cau Giay, and Nam Tu Liem districts are facing overcrowded schools due to mushrooming urban and residential areas. Overcrowded classes are most common in primary schools. Many classes have up to 55 students per classroom, well above the permitted number.

Nguyen Thi Mai Hoa, principal of the Me Tri Primary School in Nam Tu Liem District, said that the class size in the first grade of the school ranges from 52 to 54 students. "As the number of students increases, there will not be enough space to accommodate them all in the next few years," she told The Hanoi Times.


Students attend a music class at Me Tri Elementary School in Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem district. Photo: Anh Kiet/The Hanoi Times

Pham Ngoc Anh, head of the Cau Giay District Department of Education and Training, said Cau Giay has experienced rapid urbanization and population growth in recent years.

"The district is expected to have 6,000 more students in all grades this year than last. I fear that overcrowding will not decrease this year. A major challenge facing the district is the lack of schools and classrooms," Anh told The Hanoi Times.

Pham Dam Thuc Hanh, head of Hoang Mai District's Education and Training Office, said Hoang Mai had experienced the worst overcrowding in schools in the past year, especially in Hoang Liet District, which has a rapid urbanization rate and a population of more than 80,000, with 1,500 to 1,800 babies born annually.

The district has one kindergarten, three primary schools, and two middle schools. These schools are now over capacity, while the Hoang Liet Kindergarten is reportedly overcrowded.

Chu Van An Primary School in Hoang Mai District was the most overcrowded in the city. The school enrolled about 1,500 students last school year, while its capacity was only 960 students.

"The sudden increase in the number of first-grade students puts pressure on the school facilities, and with the number of students representing 14 to 15% of the population of the district, there is a lot of pressure to ensure facilities, teachers, and the quality of teaching and learning in the district," said Han.

Trinh Thi Que Anh, a mother of a six-year-old boy, said she fought for a place at a private school in Hoang Mai District because she was very concerned about the quality of the overcrowded classrooms at the public primary school.

Anh wonders how a teacher can handle up to 60 or 70 students per class. How can students learn in such a crowded classroom?