Students use machinery during a lesson at Can Tho University in Can Tho city. (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA)Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha has instructed authorities in 12 provinces and one city in the Mekong Delta region to increase expenditures from their local education budgets to pay for facilities and equipment.

The Mekong Delta’s expenditures are 11.9 percent lower than the country’s average, Nha said at a conference on solutions for educational development in the region held recently in Can Tho city.

If the issue is not resolved, the gap between human resources and development would widen.

Pham Hung Anh, Director of the Agency of Education Facilities under the Ministry of Education and Training, said that the total expenditures for kindergarten and high school levels were at the lowest level, accounting for 14.9 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively, of the region’s total for the education sector between 2011 and 2016.

Secondary education accounted for 27 percent, and primary education 42.8 percent, Anh said.

Allocation from the central budget for the region via education programmes is low, he said.

To build schools in the 2014-2015 year, for example, only Tan Phu Dong district in Tien Giang province received a subsidy worth more than 7.5 billion VND (320,700 USD), accounting for 0.4 percent of the country’s total.

The programme in the 2017-2020 period provided 717 billion VND for the entire region, he said.

The region has 6,874 schools from kindergarten to high school levels. It will need nearly 3,300 new classrooms to be built and around 8,550 to be upgraded. Nearly 2,200 sets of teaching equipment will be bought.

The region has 55.1 percent of primary students dropping out for many different reasons including financial difficulties, moving to other southern provinces or HCM City or other cities in the region.

Nguyen Thi Minh Giang, Director of Kien Giang province’s Department of Education and Training, said that the region’s many canals lead to difficulties for students to go to school.

The rate of national standard schools at educational levels is low in the region, compared to others in the country.

Many delegates at other educational departments in provinces have complained about shortage of teachers as the number of students increases.

Nguyen Hung Nhien, deputy director of Hau Giang province’s Department of Education and Training, said that more preferential policies about salaries for kindergarten teachers should be issued because the salary is low and they work 10 to 12 hours a day.

Nguyen Thanh Binh, acting Chairman of the An Giang Province People’s Committee, said that education in the region needs a special policy.

The region has only two or three provinces waiting to be given financial autonomy, Binh said, adding that it is difficult to allocate more to their education budget.

At the conference, the Ministry of Education and Training and local authorities said the land collection would be used for the education sector. Funds for the prevention of natural calamities should be used for the sector.  

The ministry will ask the National Assembly to approve more loans. The loans’ value will increase by 5 percent to 10 percent compared to the existing ones.-VNA