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English center chain makes amends after accusations of tuition fee scam in Vietnam’s Central Highlands



A representative of APAX Leaders made an apology and pledged to return tuition fees to parents on Thursday after Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper had reported on accusations against a branch of the English center chain for appropriating the tuition.

The branch in question is located in Buon Ma Thuot City, Dak Lak Province of Vietnam’s Central Highlands region.

It was granted permission for operation by the Department of Education and Training of Dak Lak on April 23, 2020.

Accounts given by many parents to Tuoi Tre showed that the center received tuition fees for long-term courses this summer, but suddenly stopped all operations last month.

Tran Thi Hoa, 44, said that she had paid more than VND23.3 million (US$983) for her child’s 12-month course at the APAX Leaders center in Buon Ma Thuot City on June 22.

Hoa’s child had attended classes at the center since then until one day in August, when the student and her friends were met with a closed classroom upon their arrival and made to wait at the entrance hall of the venue until their parents picked them up.

Hoa immediately tried to find staff members at the center for clarification, but the entire venue was empty.

For Trieu Vy Hoang Thuong, 35, the tuition fee she had paid was over VND41 million ($1,730).

Hoa, Thuong, and all other parents were not informed of the shutdown in advance.

“A security guard told me that the center closed down quietly,” Thuong said.

“The director and all staff members quit their jobs and took on new ones in other places.

“Many other parents also paid tuition fees for the whole year like me and were stunned by the sudden closure.”

When the parents tried to reach out to some teachers and staff members of the center that they have contact with, they were informed on August 19 that classes would be temporarily closed on August 20 and 21 due to a server problem, and the new timetable would be announced shortly after, according to Thuong.

“However, they have given our children a long break so far, and have not made any contact with the hundreds of parents who paid tuition fees,” Thuong complained. 

“Each parent paid VND20-50 million [$843-2,109], translating to a large sum of money having handed to this center.”

Representatives unaware of the case

The parents made extra efforts to contact a woman named Huong, who quit her job as the director of the APAX Leaders center in Buon Ma Thuot in July, and Dao Thai Son, a representative of the branch.

While Huong told the parents that she resigned after working at the center for only a month and was not aware of its closure, Son instructed them to have their children switch to the online studying mode.

“We paid a lot of money so that our children can study directly at the center to improve their English communication skills and confidence,” Hoa said. 

“We can let our children study online without paying that much,” she added as she criticized Son’s response as inappropriate and perfunctory.

Son then assured the parents that he was working on refunding procedures, of which he could not ensure the outcome.

In response to Tuoi Tre’s request on the reason for the center’s sudden shutdown, Son said “it is not in [his] duty.”

For Huong, she said many of the parents blamed her while they transferred tuition fees to the center’s bank account, not hers.

“APAX Leaders still owes me my salary,” she added.

Tuoi Tre made several attempts to contact the southern director of APAX Leaders, but did not get a response.

Authorities take action

The provincial education department, together with the local police unit, received denunciation letters from the parents on September 15, according to Doan Dinh Duan, Dak Lak’s deputy chief education inspector.

A delegation of inspectors has also been established to deal with the case.

“We are further verifying the number of affected students and the amount of tuition paid by the parents,” Duan said. 

“In addition, the delegation asked the center to stop recruiting students and advertising courses until the problem is solved, and the Dak Lak Department of Education and Training allows them to resume teaching and recruiting activities. 

“The department’s inspectors will make an official announcement to the parents and the press as soon as possible.”

Responses from headquarters

On Thursday, via a response to Tuoi Tre, APAX Leaders English Center issued an apology to parents who have been affected by the incident at its branch in Buon Ma Thuot.

A representative of the chain refuted scamming parents and students out of tuition fees.

The chain stated that it neither sent notices nor directed anyone to make statements and take irresponsible actions against customers. 

The statements made by individuals in Tuoi Tre’s article are not the official stance of APAX Leaders and its policies.

To ensure the interests of parents, the chain will contact them via phone calls on Friday to listen to their accounts of the incident and come up with a plan to deal with customers’ refund requests.

“We’re committed to explaining the incident in writing to the regulatory agencies and delivering notifications to the media and customers,” the representative said.

The chain has identified that the incident at the Buon Ma Thuot-based center was caused by some individuals, who did not report arising problems to their superiors and failed to properly perform their responsibilities.

“We will check and handle the violations, appropriately discipline related individuals, and do not let this happen again,” the representative said. 

“In the shortest time, APAX Leaders will review the operation of the entire center to correct the shortcomings (if any) of the whole system in order to ensure the quality of teaching and learning we committed.”

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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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