A meeting between representatives of English teaching center Apax Leaders and’ parents ended prematurely in disorder as the venue manager shut the place down due to security concerns.
Nguyen Ngoc Thuy, chairman of the parent company Apax Holdings, and CEO Nguyen Anh Tuan, had scheduled a meeting with 700 parents on Sunday at a hotel in District 10 to discuss tuition refunds and the reopening of centers.
Due to the large number of attendees, the meeting was divided into two sessions, the first from 2 p.m. to 4.15 p.m, and the second from 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Speaking to around 300 parents at the first session, Thuy apologized for the situation that Apax Leaders is in and promised to reopen centers in southern Vietnam.
He also reiterated his commitment to refund parents who have paid tuition fees in advance. The refunds will run from June until April 2023.
Apax Holdings CEO Nguyen Anh Tuan speaks with students’ parents at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City on April 10, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Nhat Le
Some parents, however, disagreed with the plan as they do not want to wait until next year to get their money back.
“Is there anyone here who does not have to borrow from banks or family to pay the tuition?” Thuy Quynh, a mother, asked Thuy, saying that she did not agree with the repayment plan.
Other parents joined her and said they disagreed with the payment plan. The venue atmosphere then became intense.
At around 5.30 p.m. a hotel employee came in the middle of the room and said that the meeting had been closed early due to security concerns. Lights and air-conditioner systems were then turned off.
The parents started to show their anger and surrounded Thuy and Tuan, demanding to be paid back.
Tuan then had to go downstairs and meet with hundreds of parents who were prepared to join the second session, which had been canceled by the hotel.
Both Tuan and Thuy continued to speak with parents at the hotel. At 5 p.m., the parents started to leave.
“I came here to see what Apax Leaders will due with the money they owe me, but nothing came out of it,” said Hong Phuong, a parent.
Apax Leaders had earlier identified 1,350 students who have not completed all the lessons that they had paid for.
The chain had over 16,000 students in the south when it shut down.
Starting in September last year many parents in HCMC, Dak Lak, Da Nang, and other places began to complain about the teaching quality and accused the chain of “running away” with their money.
It had 120 centers nationwide at one point, its website says. By last month it had only one center in HCMC operating, but as of Sunday the company had reduced the number to just three.
Apax Leaders said it was facing difficulties including a lack of cash flows due to the Covid-lockdown-enforced closure of its centers over the last few years.
Its students claimed the teaching quality had deteriorated, teachers and other staff said they had not received their salaries for months and creditors said they had not been paid interest for. Many parents who had paid up to VND200 million in advanced tuition to the company are now demanding a refund.
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