More anxiety for parents as Dhaka schools ‘hustle’ them for tuition fees

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Several reputed private schools in Dhaka have been accused of cranking up the pressure on the financially stressed parents to pay the tuition fees ahead of a government order on the promotion of students to the next grade.

They fear schools might not promote their children if they fail to clear the fees in full, adding to their stress.

School authorities, however, have denied the accusations labelled against them. They say they are merely telling the parents to clear the fees in order for them to pay the teachers and keep the institutions in operation.

Measures will be taken to elevate students to higher classes once the government decision on the matter arrives, they say.

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Many schools have been conducting online classes amid the pandemic. Parents, however, have been critical of these classes saying they have been ‘ineffective.’

The government announced the closure of all schools and educational institutions in the country on Mar 17 following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. It cannot be said for certain as to when the institutions will reopen.

Schools are calling and texting them for the tuition fees, said many parents, claiming such activities have been on the rise in recent times as the year is drawing to a close.

South Point School and College, Ideal School and College, Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Monipur High School and College, and Mirpur Girls’ Ideal Laboratory Institute are among the many institutions that have allegedly demanded payment of tuition fees.

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One parent, on condition of anonymity, told bdnews24.com: "A lot of parents haven’t received their salaries yet and many have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Numerous others have seen their businesses suffer which have led to uncertain situations at their homes.”

“It will be really difficult for us to pay the tuition fees in full in this situation,” the parent added.

"At the end of every month, they call or send us SMS asking for tuition fees," said another parent.

“I've been depositing the fees every month by standing in long queues at the banks.”

One parent said one of their main goals behind conducting online classes and examinations is to collect tuition fees.

"The calls and messages keep rising if I fall behind on payment of the monthly fee," he added.

"Their attitude makes me worry if they will halt the promotion of my son if I fail to clear the fees”

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The parents of students studying at different schools have also demanded a discount on tuition fees amidst the crisis.

Hamida Ali, the principal of Southpoint School and College, claimed no one was being bullied into paying the tuition fees.

"Since many people are still not leaving their homes, they are being informed that fees can be paid through mobile banking as well as banks for their convenience.”

She said a decision regarding the exams will be made as per the government order.

“Any government decision on the evaluation of students or auto-promotion will be complied with,” Ali added.

Shahan Ara Begum, the principal of Ideal School and College, said, “Even in normal times, some parents are unable to pay their child's tuition fees regularly. We accepted the reality even at the time. Now, there is a national crisis going on. There is no question of us pressuring the parents in this situation.”

Prof Fouzia Rezwan, the principal of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, told bdnews24.com: "No parents are being hassled to pay the tuition fees. Many students have their fees pending from the months of July to September.”

The teachers are conducting online classes even though the schools are closed to minimise disruptions to students' education, she said.

But parents said teachers do not pay attention to the needs of individual students during distance learning.

"Teachers take classes on certain topics on WhatsApp. They write and send some materials. Afterwards, my son is taught these things at home. In the same way, the teachers send question papers. The answers are written down and sent to their mobile phones. This is how the classes and exams are being conducted,” said the parent of a fourth-grader.

A parent of a seventh-grade student said: “I don't see students paying attention during online classes as the classes are finished in a hurry. The sound and the picture quality aren’t good either.”

Another parent reported facing a different kind of problem.

“Students are becoming addicted to mobile devices due to online classes. At the end of the class, my son wants to play with the mobile phone. That's a problem."