Probe into sudden decision to shut English training institute

About 210 children will be affected and the total payment involved is almost 3 million yuan (US$470,000), according to the Putuo District Market Supervision and Management Bureau.

Authorities in Putuo District are investigating the sudden decision to close an outlet of Sesame Street English, an English training institute, leaving parents of more than 200 children in the lurch, the market watchdog said yesterday.

About 210 children will be affected and the total payment involved is almost 3 million yuan (US$470,000), according to the Putuo District Market Supervision and Management Bureau. The watchdog is investigating along with the police and other relevant authorities.

Aggrieved parents are demanding a refund but the school has refused, without giving any reason.

A woman surnamed Pan said her 6-year-old grandson had attended just one month of classes at the branch on Jinshajiang Road. The family paid 20,880 yuan for a year of classes.

“Institute workers told us over the weekend that they will close at the end of this month permanently,” she said.

“All parents demanded a full refund, which was refused by the outlet,” she told Shanghai Daily. “I am very anxious because it is not a small amount of payment.”

She added: “The solution they offered is that children can continue learning at other outlets like one in Songjiang District, but they are far away and inconvenient.”

A woman surnamed Lin paid more than 59,000 yuan for three years of classes for her 5-year-old daughter who had only finished just 18 months of lessons.

“We learnt that the legal representative and head of the institute outlet planned to sell it as early as June last year due to operational problems, but it still tricked parents into prepaying tuition by hosting promotional activities in November and posting advertisements saying it will open winter vacation classes,” Lin claimed.

She claimed the institute said it had run out of money due to a lawsuit.

Some teachers had also quit as their wages were in arrears, she claimed.

The outlet head was not available for comment.

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