Hanoi education department orders schools not to “Tet” superiors
Jan. 13th, 2010
The Hanoi Education and Training Department has issued an order that schools must not use state money to give Tet gifts to higher authorities or superiors.
Tet, which is originally a noun in Vietnamese that means the Lunar New Year, has also become a verb meaning to offer gifts or money to superiors at Tet or on special occasions.
Vietnamese people and businesses always “Tet” higher authorities or superiors in thanks for their help. This “envelope culture” has been criticized by many people.
Headmaster of Tay Son School Pham Bich Diep in Hanoi said that it would be “no problem” if the gift is small, such as an envelope with several hundreds of thousands of dong inside.
“The parents’ association of the school agrees to use a certain sum of money for superiors. On average, we must “Tet” some 10 people,” she revealed.
A school representative in Hoan Kiem District explained that every year the school spends some two or three million dong to thank education management agencies and superiors. The money is taken from the “savings fund” of the school. He said that every person receives 100-200,000 dong.
“We need to say thanks to the agencies and people who give support to the school,” he asserted.
He went on to say that “small envelopes” should not be seen as “Tet gifts,” since the latter means big and valuable ones, worth several million dong.
Headmasters of other schools also agreed that Tet gifts should be given to superiors to express their thanks for assistance and that giving Tet gifts should not be criticized.
If they help you, you should give a gift to them to say thanks. Instead of giving a jar of jam, you can give 100,000 or 200,000 dong. It is quite normal, they say.
Diep added that Tet gifts are a must, even if one has to spend his own money.
Dang Dinh Dai, Headmaster of Nguyen Gia Thieu High School in Hanoi also said that he would “Tet” superiors, but with less than 500,000 dong.
“This will be my own money, not the state’s money,” he noted.
Nguyen Thanh Ky from the Hanoi Education and Training Department said that Tet gifts are always small.
Another official of the department said that even though they request that people not “Tet” higher authorities, they will still offer gifts personally. If so, no one can control how much money people will give and receive.