International school that closed after collecting $581,000 in tuition to reopen

By Son Thuy, Khanh Linh   September 7, 2023 | 11:37 pm PT
International school that closed after collecting $581,000 in tuition to reopen
Infrastructure at the Green Shoots international school in Hoi An, Quang Nam, has been dismantled. Photo by VnExpress/Son Thuy
An international school in central Quang Nam Province has changed location and will reopen next Monday, after it initially shut down with over half a million dollars paid in upfront tuition fees.

Nguyen Cong Thanh, vice director of the Quang Nam Department of Education and Training, said the school made the announcement saying it changed location to Victoria School in Dien Ban Town's Dien Ngoc Ward, about 30 km away from its original location in Hoi An.

The school said it would keep the same teaching curriculum.

Catherine Clare McKinley, the school owner who has left for her home country the U.K., has delegated a person in Vietnam to handle the matter and run the school.

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.

By the end of the 2022-2023 school year, the school has 95 students, including 84 children of foreigners. 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.

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.

A foreigner, whose children study at Green Shoots, said he was shocked to learn that his children could no longer study at the school. He had already paid over VND600 million for his two children, a 5th and a 9th grader, to study.

He said he did not know what was going on and hoped that the school would either operate again or refund the tuition.

By 5 p.m. Thursday, all 95 students at Green Shoots had been admitted to new schools, according to the Quang Nam Department of Education and Training. It has not been confirmed whether these students will return to Green Shoots or have their tuition refunded.

Tran Anh Tuan, deputy chairman of Quang Nam, said the U.K. Embassy in Vietnam has been requested to intervene and summon McKinley back to Vietnam to deal with the matter.

There is currently no legal document that specifies what is an "international school" in Vietnam. However, the country has an estimated 120 such schools.

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