20 students return to international school that closed after collecting $581,000 in tuition

By Son Thuy   September 11, 2023 | 10:38 pm PT
20 students return to international school that closed after collecting $581,000 in tuition
The Green Shoots international school reopens at a new location in Quang Nam Province, September 11, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Son Thuy
Around 20 students returned to study at the Green Shoots international school in central Quang Nam Province on Monday, the day the school resumed operations since its relocation.

Nguyen Quoc Huong, who was relegated to run the school by its owner, U.K. national Catherine Clare Mckinley, said six foreign teachers returned to work on Monday. The other teachers said they would return to work once their students return, he added.

The Green Shoots international school now operates within the grounds of the Victoria school in Dien Ngoc Ward, Dien Ban Town, around 20 km away from its original location in Hoi An.

A parent of a 2nd and 8th graders said the children have returned to the school to study as they have not been admitted anywhere else.

"When the nation began the new school year on September 5, some parents were worried that Green Shoots would close down for good, so they transferred their children to other schools. I patiently waited because I believed the school would reopen," they said.

Another parent has decided not to let their children to the school, despite having paid VND100 million ($4,149) in tuition.

"I no longer trust the school," they said.

Previously, the school had 95 students, including 84 foreigners. Huong said Green Shoots would need to refund the money to parents whose children do not return to the school, in accordance with the law.

"The school would negotiate with parents, and deal with each case one by one," he said.

The Green Shoots International School was approved by Quang Nam to admit students from kindergarten to high school levels in 2014. The school had already opened in 2011, but only at a small scale and admitted mostly kindergarten students.

By 2019-2020 school year, the school ensured educational quality and had earned the trust of parents, according to the Quang Nam Department of Education and Training.

But in the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year, due to impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the school had difficulties admitting students. As a private school, lower sources of income affected its activities.

There were a total of 43 teachers and employees working at the school.

In 2022, the school had plans to move to a different location as the renting contract of the existing location was not renewed. But the location change could not be made.

Parents said that while the school announced that August 22 would be the beginning of the new school year, they received McKinley’s announcement on August 8 about transferring the students to a different school in Da Nang that borders Quang Nam.

By this time, parents of Green Shoots had already given the school around VND14 billion ($580,900). The school where the students were supposed to be transferred to meanwhile refused to receive the students because it never received any tuition.

On September 8, Green Shoots reported to the Quang Nam Department of Education and Training that the school would reopen, but would also be relocated to the Victoria school.

Quang Nam police said it has received reports from parents accusing the school of stealing their money.

Tran Anh Tuan, deputy chairman of Quang Nam, said he would request intervention from the U.K. Embassy to summon Catherine back from the U.K. to Vietnam to resolve issues.

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