All the schools in the city are overloaded, but the progress in building new schools is behind schedule. Consequently, many students are in desperate need for decent schools. This paints an overall gloomy picture of the education sector's infrastructure development projects in 2007 but will it become brighter in 2008?
Students do physical exercise at the Hong Bang Junior School in district 5 (Photo Mai Hai/SGGP)
Students in the city are lacking for decent schools. To resolve the problem, in 2004 the city's government decided to build 23 new high schools. Currently, of these, two are under construction, one is calling for tender, 13 are still in the design stage and the remaining are still to finaise their investment projects.
Despite the slow rate of progress, the city thereafter approved the HCMC Department of Education and Training's (DoET) projects worth over VND960 billion to build a further 27 new high schools. These are situated mainly in suburban districts around the city but up to date, only seven of them have been completed.
The delay in building progress has so far been blamed on the shortage of land and the lack of funds due to fluctuation in prices of material buildings. This is despite the fact that every year the city's education sector is always prioritized and given money from the public purse to renovate or upgrade the school system's facilities and to build new schools.
Mr. Nguyen Duat Tu, principal of Hiep Binh High School in Thu Duc District, complained that the school started its building in 2004 and was scheduled for completion in one year. Unfortunately, until now, nothing except the walls around the school's precinct have been built.
Mr. Tu added that teen students are now in the twelfth grade and still longing for a chance of studying in a decent school for once in their life before they graduate. At present, while waiting for their school to be finished and put into operation, the students have no choice but to study day after day at Hiep Binh Phuoc Elementary School with younger children.
While leaders of the HCM Department of Construction fear that many projects concerned with the building of new schools will have to be halted due to the current boom in prices of building materials. Mr. Huynh Cong Minh, Director of the city's DoET, was still full of optimism about an increase in the rate of building in 2008, due to the relevant authorities' recently issuing a number of documents.
These documents give guidance on adjustments to construction work cost and estimates for projects funded by the Government and on the prices of building materials. School development projects not only have to face the shortage of funds but also problems arising from the rapid rate of urbanization.
Recently, at a meeting about land funds reserved for the building of schools in the city, chaired by Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, Deputy Chairwoman of the city's People's Committee, a representative of the Department of Resources and Environment warned that due to the boom in population, authorities of suburban districts are tending to curtail the land funds for building new schools and allocated to the priority of residential development projects.
Sharing the worries of delegates in the meeting, Ms. Ha directed the education sector to forecast the number of new schools that needed building by 2020 and to take initiative in finding vacant plots of land for these new schools.
Ms. Ha also requested that all districts that have not completed their layout of school system project must fulfill and submitted them to relevant authorities for consideration and approval by the end of March 2008.