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Director disappears after closing English centers across Vietnam, with wage, tuition unpaid



Many teachers and students have been on tenterhooks as they lost contact with the director of a Ho Chi Minh City-based English training company that has shut down a series of its centers across Vietnam without settling wages and tuition.

Around half a month ago, the city’s Department of Education and Training contacted Do Van Quan, director of Master English Education Company Limited, which owns the Saigon American English (SAS), asking him to explain tuition-related complaints from students of some SAS centers that had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a report sent later to the department, Quan said the COVID-19 epidemic had severely affected the company’s operations and solvency, making it fail to fully pay its staff and teachers, Nguyen Phuc Huy Tung, head of the department’s continuing education division, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

In his report, Quan pledged to resolve SAS students’ complaints and said the online training model would be applied.

He also promised to pay teachers interest on the unpaid amounts of salary.

However, the department could not get in touch with Quan when many SAS teachers and students reported him to police as he had allegedly fled away without paying salary and tuition fees to them.

“I’ve been unable to reach Quan by phone during the last two days after hearing that a lot of SAS centers across the country have stopped operations,” Tung said.

The division’s head added that local education authorities are ready to coordinate with police, if required, to protect the legitimate rights and interests of students.

Over the past few days, thousands of SAS students, teachers, and staff were upset by the sudden closure of SAS centers, not only in Ho Chi Minh City but also in tens of other localities, including Can Tho, Tien Giang, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Lam Dong, Da Nang, Thua Thiên Hue, Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, and Quang Ninh.

Quan has signed many commitments to refund tuition fees and pay wages using his private bank account, but nobody could get back their money or speak to him.

M.H., a student of an SAS center in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap District, told Tuoi Tre that she paid a total of VND25.2 million (US$1,110) in March for a course of English communication for her and her sister.

Their course was suspended in May due to the pandemic and the center has given no information to them since then, H. said, adding that she could no longer get in touch with the center’s employee who gave consultancy on her enrollment.

B.D.B., a teacher of an SAS center in the city’s Binh Thanh District, said since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic in early 2020, the center has made late wage payments.

“Not only me but also dozens of other teachers, including foreigners, and employees of many other SAS centers have had their salaries unpaid,” B. said.

Talking to Tuoi Tre last week, V.P.T.A., Quan’s deputy, said he had lost contact with Quan for a week and that many people have also been looking for him.

“So far this year, thousands of students, teachers, and employees have kept calling me to ask for payment of tuition fees and unpaid salaries, but I am just a staff member and I have personally had nearly VND300 million [$13,200] in salary owed by the company,” A. said.

As far as Tuoi Tre knows, the SAS ran nearly 70 centers in more than 20 cities and provinces nationwide.

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Vietnamese high school principal’s enthusiastic greeting on first day goes viral on social media



A video capturing the spirited moment of a high school principal, dressed in a white shirt, standing in the schoolyard and wholeheartedly applauding and welcoming every student on the inaugural day of his new role in Thua Thien-Hue Province, central Vietnam, has garnered significant attention on social media.

The video began circulating on social media on Friday last week, marking the first day that Le Trieu Son took on the role of principal at Hai Ba Trung High School in Hue City, Thua Thien-Hue Province.

Numerous teachers at the school were surprised to witness the new principal standing and warmly greeting each student, a scene that also took many students aback.

Following the school drum signaling the commencement of the school day, Son took advantage of the 15-minute bellwork period in each class to visit every classroom, extending personal greetings to students and homeroom teachers.

During these visits, Son humbly introduced himself to the students and teachers, saying, “I have been assigned by the Department of Education and Training of Thua Thien Hue Province to serve as the school principal, and today marks the beginning of my job.”

“I hope you will join hands with me to transform this hundred-year-old school into a happy place.” 

In response to the principal’s sincerity, many students expressed interest and asked to shake hands with him.

Le Trieu Son visits every classroom on the first day of his new role as the principal at Hai Ba Trung High School in Thua Thien-Hue Province, central Vietnam, December 1, 2023. Photo: Anh Thu / Tuoi Tre

Le Trieu Son visits every classroom on the first day of his new role as the principal at Hai Ba Trung High School in Thua Thien-Hue Province, central Vietnam, December 1, 2023. Photo: Anh Thu / Tuoi Tre

Son, confirming the incident to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, said that he extended this personal greeting not only to morning classes but also to afternoon classes on Friday. 

Reflecting on the motivation behind his actions, Son explained that upon arriving at the school, he noticed the hurried faces of students rushing to their classes. 

In response, he headed to the schoolyard, greeted the students, and reminded them to walk slowly to avoid tumbles.

“I remained standing to welcome the students until the start of the class,” Son said. 

“Subsequently, I visited every classroom to personally meet with all the students and their respective homeroom teachers throughout the entire school.

“The fulfillment of my assigned tasks at this school hinges on the cooperation and engagement of the students.”

The Department of Education and Training in Thua Thien Hue Province has designated Son, the former principal of Gia Hoi High School in Hue City, as the new principal of Hai Ba Trung High School.

This decision comes in the aftermath of Ngo Duc Thuc’s resignation due to financial management violations.

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UK government scholarship recipients train Vietnamese students in clean energy



Luu Nguyen Nguyet Minh, an alumnus of the UK government’s Chevening Scholarship Program, is working alongside a cohort of her fellow Chevening alumni to promote the shift to renewable energy in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region.

Last weekend, the group hosted a two-day training program for 9th graders at Doan Thi Diem Middle School in Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City.

The program, named ‘Enhancing Awareness of Renewable Energy Toward Achieving Zero Net Emissions in the Mekong Delta,’ brought several Chevening scholars and local experts together to teach the participants about simple renewable energy models.

Minh, a Can Tho native, has spent the better part of her academic and professional life working to create positive changes in the Mekong Delta region.

“The project brings together Chevening alumni, young engineers, and lecturers from Can Tho University,” Minh said. “Young people in the Mekong Delta, especially in Can Tho, have the ability and passion to build a sustainable and healthy delta.”

During the training program, Nguyen Thi Anh Thu, a Chevening scholar who specializes in environmental and energy studies, spent time teaching the participants about energy, including different sources of energy and actions they can take within their families and schools to implement renewable energy and efficient energy-saving practices.

Thu specifically focused on the Mekong Delta’s abundance of wind as a clean, renewable energy source for the region.

Contributing to the project, Bui Minh Duc, a construction engineer in Can Tho, along with a team of experts, built a visual model depicting four systems of renewable energy production.

According to Duc, the model allows students to visualize the basic principles of generating electricity from renewable sources. The students also wrote down the ideas for their own model and presented them in English.

The model will eventually be donated to the school so that it can continue to be used to inspire the transition to renewable energy.

On December 11, a convoy from the British Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City will visit the school to present awards to the teams who participated in a solar energy-powered mini vehicle design competition.

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Vietnam university awards honorary doctorate to S.Korean province governor



The University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday awarded an honorary doctorate to Lee Cheol Woo, governor of North Gyeongsang Province in eastern South Korea for his contributions to the friendship between the East Asian country and Vietnam.

Speaking at a ceremony to give the doctorate, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Minh Tam, vice-president of the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City, hailed Lee’s assistance, informing that Lee had received many medals and prizes, including the Order for the Hongjo Geunjeong Medal, the Proud Korean Grand Prize, and the grand prize for Proud Koreans Who Shined for Korea.

He promoted the establishment of the Saemaul Globalization Foundation in Vietnam.

Activities of the foundation and the Center for Rural Development – Saemaul Undong have helped foster Vietnam’s socio-economic development, which has been recognized by many Vietnamese localities.

Saemaul Undong is also known as the New Community Movement, a political initiative launched in 1970 to modernize the rural South Korean economy.

“Through the operations of the foundation and the Saemaul movement, North Gyeongsang Province governor Lee has helped with increasingly tightening the Vietnam – South Korea relations,” Tam said.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ngo Thi Phuong Lan, rector of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City, said Lee had contributed significantly to the local community through the Center for Rural Development – Saemaul Undong’s activities.

Lan added that Lee would continue making great contributions to the currently strong Vietnam – South Korea relations.

“It’s my great honor and pride to receive the honorary doctorate from the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City, which is known as the largest university in Vietnam and the cradle of many talents of the country,” Lee remarked at the ceremony.

He added he used to be a teacher and has more than 40 years of working in the National Diet of Japan and then the North Gyeongsang Province administration.

“I get a new feeling when standing here because Vietnamese educators recognized my efforts and achievements from my contributions to human prosperity through the Saemaul movement,” Lee shared.

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