HA NOI Equipped only with a table, a telephone and some chairs in a small, rented room somewhere in the city, poorly qualified people can easily become the principals of self-proclaimed tutorial centres.
Many parents rely on outsiders to do the job because they are often busy or lack the knowledge to oversee their children s study. However, the system is open to cheats.
Nguyen Minh Nguyet, a final year student at a medical college in Doan Thi Diem Street, has a job as a tutor at a centre in Cau Giay District, but she was asked to change her name before teaching students.
The centre told her to use the name Nguyen Thi Tam, a primary teacher at a famous school in Ha Noi. If she wanted the job she had to lie.
Although hating the deception, Nguyet accepted the job as she had already paid the centre VND300,000 for registration.
She was told no parent would accept her as a tutor if they knew she had not graduated from a teaching college.
Nguyet now teaches two 11-year-olds twice a week. She said their maths was sometimes too difficult for her to understand. However, she survives by changing the subject.
Nguyet said she mostly helped them do their homework and watched them to make sure they were not playing games.
The children told her that other tutors had been sacked as they often misspent words or taught maths wrongly. She was told she was the third tutor at the home in three months.
Nguyet said the parents never worried about her teaching if the relationship between her and the two boys was good because they were too busy running their shop.
Nguyen Thi Kim Chi, mother of Nguyet s students, said she did not check with the tutorial centre about a teacher s qualifications. "I don t need to. I sack them if they don t meet my demands," she said.
Twenty-three-year-old Le Thi Thuy returned to the tutorial centre about five times until she was given a real address for tutoring, saying that the centre had cheated her.
Thuy said as a rule she paid VND1 million ($64) to the centre after it found her a student. But the student did not want to study and she received no pay from him. Thuy asked the centre to find other student, but it produced no one in a month - and refused to pay the money back. Thuy was given a real student to teach after she told the centre she would report the case to the police.
Despite the importance of a good education and the general acceptance that a bad teacher can harm a student s future, tutorial services in Viet Nam are uncontrolled.
"There is no specific regulations on the rights and obligations of tutors or tutorial centres," said justice ministry lawyer Vu Huy Hung.
According to the Ha Noi s education and training department, investigations are held if there are complaints, but there aren t many.
Le Thi Dieu Hoa, the department s vice chief inspector, said its basic function was to give licences to centres.
Tax official Quach Viet Dung said tutorial centres operated free of tax as they were in the education field, which receives State support to boost education quality. VNS