School parents protest new location

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Around 200 parents of student at the French International School Colette, currently located at three different sites in the city, protested their relocation at the French Consulate on May 5.

"We are very worried for our children's health. The new school is located in Long Binh, District 9 in Ho Chi Minh City, just 200 meters from 20 hectares of burning waste and industrial plastic dumping and 100 meters from a legal execution site, and in an area with more than 100 brick kilns," said Luong Nicolas, vice president of the school's parents' association, who has two children studying in the school.

The parents were particularly livid because official assurances that all the problems would be addressed had not been kept.

Nasir PKM, the father of Lae PKM, a 10-year-old pupil, and legal counsel for the parent association, said work on the new school began three years ago with seven million euros, of which 78.3 percent was taken from school fees paid by the parents, with the remaining amount funded by the French government. The new school was to be handed over in July 2010, and the parents were assured that problems relating to the location would be addressed and resolved.

Not only had this not happened, the school also required parents to confirm in the registration form for the new school year that they were okay with the new location in the coming school year, with no mention of the environmental problems or measures taken to solve them, Nasir said. The deadline for submitting the form was May 6.

Luong Nicolas said that if the school goes ahead with the move without considering the concerns of the parents' association, many will move their children to other international schools in HCMC and some will even return to France.

As of this paper going to print the French consulate general's office could not be reached for comment, while the school principal declined to meet with the media saying he was very busy on May 5.

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