A private high school in central Vietnam has had over half its classrooms shuttered by a local bank after failing to pay loans worth US$2.64 million.
Twenty-four out of 46 classrooms at Hue Star Middle and High School in Phu Vang District, Thua Thien-Hue Province have been sealed since mid-July, its headmaster Ve Van Lam confirmed on Thursday.
The school, privately owned by Hue Star Education Systems (HSES), was established in 2008 to provide elementary and secondary education for students in the central province.
Pham Ba Nam, director of a local Vietnam Bank for Industry and Trade (VietinBank) branch, said the lender was forced to seal off the classrooms due to unpaid debts accrued by HSES’s board of directors.
According to Nam, the education group owes the bank nearly VND60 billion ($2.64 million) to cover the original loan and the associated accumulated interest.
The bank should have shuttered the entire school, Nam noted, though it chose to allow 22 classrooms to remain operational after considering requests from the local school board.
The VietinBank seal on one of the classrooms at Hue Star Middle and High School in Thua Thien-Hue Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Headmaster Ve Van Lam said the bank’s actions will not affect regular operations at the school and that there are no plans to revise the curricula for the upcoming academic year.
Lam added that the school will do its best to assist students in completing transfer paperwork in the event that Hue Star High School is forced to close down the following school year.
“As for our senior students, we commit ourselves to providing them with quality, uninterrupted education until June 24 [of next year] when they sit for the national exam needed for graduation,” Lam said.
Hue Star Middle and High School currently has 80 middle and high school students enrolled for the 2017-2016 school year, with ten teachers on the payroll.
According to Pham Van Hung, director of Thua Thien-Hue Department of Education and Training, Hue Star’s struggles stem from its low enrollment rates.
“This is in part due to the fact that Vietnamese families prefer to have their children educated at public institutions, leading to underperforming students being the primary market for private schools,” Hung explained. “This poses a challenge for non-public schools to put their name on the map, which in turn leads to poor enrollment and difficulties in balancing the numbers.”
Hue Star Middle and High School in Thua Thien-Hue Province. Photo: Tuoi Tre