Vietnamese teachers would thrive on their salary in 2035
Updated: 7/22/2015 11:07:37 AM GMT + 7
A teacher (first right) and some of her students in Nam Tra My District, located in the central province of Quang Nam, are pictured picking wild veggies for their meals. Photo: Tuoi Tre.
A teacher (first right) and some of her students in Nam Tra My District, located in the central province of Quang Nam, are pictured picking wild veggies for their meals. Photo: Tuoi Tre.
Pham Duoc, 36, from Da Nang, joined the “Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” (“My Expectations for Vietnam in 20 Years”) writing contest with a dream that teachers would make a decent living only on their salaries in the next 20 years.

I’ve nurtured a dream that in the 20 years to come, no teachers would live in poverty and teaching would become a truly noble profession.

As a teacher, I really hope my colleagues and I will make a comfortable living on our calling of choice then. My dream is also based on the fact that once teachers can survive comfortably on their salaries and teaching is looked up to, an adequate education system would materialize and serve as a lever for the country’s growth.

A truly exalted profession

Among the over one million teachers in Vietnam, only a small portion of them enjoy a satisfactory living, while the rest struggle to eke out a scanty subsistence. On November 17, 2006, the head of the country’s education sector offered a promise that "teachers would live comfortably on their salaries by 2010.”

Five years have passed since this "deadline,” but the promise has yet to come true, and the majority of local teachers are still grappling to earn their livelihood.

Therefore, my dream is that teachers would earn worthy income from their "lofty profession” in 20 years’ time, not a mere spiritual source of encouragement as they have received until now.

During Tet (Lunar New Year), teachers would no longer hold back their tears and would enjoy a cozy, proper celebration. They would be able to buy themselves and their children new clothing, give money to their parents and parents-in-law, and visit their relatives and friends during the holiday without worrying that giving these people’s children "li xi” (lucky money) would drain their meager budget.

The local media would no longer mention teachers’ Tet bonuses, which typically gives most of them an inferiority complex.

Teachers would no longer have to teach extra classes for additional income and be apprehensive that they might get "caught in the act.” They would be wholly dedicated to improving their expertise and skills and paying meticulous attention to their students.

Students and their parents would then hold teachers in reverence not only for their knowledge and skills but also for their spiritually and materially lofty lifestyle. Pedagogy would be in high demand then, and potential teachers would have to score highly on university entrance exams to earn entry into pedagogical schools.


To make such a dream ring true, the government needs to make bold "breakthroughs” by implementing two measures properly. One of them, which is a requisite for other measures, is giving teachers the good income they deserve.

Though it’s often said that "education is the country’s top-priority national policy,” teachers still struggle to eke out a living. This is part of the cause behind an inadequate education system which fails to meet everyone’s expectations.

To cope with the situation, a resolution numbered 29-NQ/TW stipulating exhaustive, radical educational reforms was released in 2013. The move came in a bid to bring about fundamental, drastic changes in education quality, satisfy citizens’ need for studying, and serve the country’s construction and defense. It is also meant to help the country’s education sector emulate its regional counterparts by 2030.

The 29-NQ/TW resolution proposed nine measures which heightened expectations held by local teachers and those interested in the education sector.

As far as I know, a worthy salary regime is key to accomplishing the desired reforms, as it is hard to do one’s job well on an empty stomach. Japan and South Korea are shining examples. Teaching should also be deemed a special calling which is entitled to a special income regime just as the army and police are.

Brilliant students would then vie for a spot in pedagogical schools, which would produce competent teachers who would guide a new generation of good students later. This is a rule.

The second solution is improving training quality at local universities, particularly pedagogical schools. At a recent seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City by the Ministry of Education and Training, deputy minister Nguyen Vinh Hien acknowledged that teacher training remains largely inadequate, and pedagogical facilities’ curricula are the most outdated compared to those adopted in other universities.

It can be said that university students just have their high school years lengthened, as they still jot down what is said during lectures, and are hardly brave enough to debate with their lecturers.

Such teaching and learning methods can only produce submissive people with a rigid mindset, and dash hopes for creativity and innovation which are conducive to successful reforms.

In my opinion, remedying the country’s university education is integral to desired educational reforms. It’s a rule that rectification must go hand in hand with construction.

PHAM DUOC (36, Da Nang)

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