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December 17, 2009

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Home » Metro » Education

Solutions sought in school closure

THE Shanghai Education Commission negotiated with the Chinese partner of Kaien English Training Center yesterday after the school closed suddenly earlier this week.

As negotiations took place, some of the center's foreign teachers demanded their outstanding wages.

The closure of one of the city's biggest language training institutes came unexpectedly, leaving hundreds of students and teachers in the lurch.

"Teachers and students will be protected," the commission said in a public statement.

The commission yesterday established a special team to investigate the case and promised a satisfactory conclusion soon.

However, education authorities did not reveal the identity of Kaien's Chinese partner.

Teachers claimed the domestic partner was a training school affiliated to Shanghai Construction Group, which is listed as the employer on their employment certificate.

"The SCG school helps me get a work visa every time," said one of the school's English teachers who is from the United States. The teacher asked not to be identified.

Foreign English teachers are demanding their wages, and some called or e-mailed Shanghai Daily yesterday to express concern about visas and the difficulty of finding new jobs at the end of the year.

No time to wait

Unlike Chinese staff and students, most foreign teachers cannot wait for the investigation to conclude because they are scheduled to depart the city for Christmas vacations.

"I am leaving the city this week and I want the Chinese partner to pay my salary," the American teacher said.

The institution owed each teacher two months of wages on average.

It also owed property managers hundreds of thousands of yuan in rent.

Before it closed, the center was still enrolling students with a tuition of 7,000 yuan (US$1,025).

Teachers and students suspect the founder Brian McCloskey, a native of Ireland, absconded with their money.

Police are also investigating. They recorded the information of each victim at the institute's headquarters in Xuhui District yesterday.

The center's financial report in March gave no indication of trouble.

"Its remaining net assets, including liquid assets and fixed assets exceeds 1 million yuan," said Cai Shengze, an official with the Shanghai Education Commission's international exchange division.

The center was launched in 1996 - one of the earliest language training institutes in the city.

It has taught about 170,000 students since that time.


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