Complications persist over tuition fees in private schools, colleges after government notice

  • Shahidul Islam, Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2020-12-02 03:11:41 BdST

The government has ordered the private educational institutions to take only tuition fees to end problems over the issue amid the pandemic, but the situation has become more complicated.

Many parents are refusing to pay the tuition fees citing the fact that the schools and colleges are only holding online classes.

The institutions say they are failing to pay the teachers and staff, and facing difficulties to continue operation without the other fees.

The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education or DSHE in a notice on Nov 18 allowed private schools and colleges to charge students tuition fees despite those remaining shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The schools and colleges, however, cannot charge the students fees for tiffin, readmission, magazine and development, the directorate said.

The government has urged the institutions to consider the condition of the parents who are under severe financial strain because of reduced income due to the pandemic crisis.

Hamida Ali, the principal of South Point School and College, said they have objection to the government’s directives on the issue. “We've intimated our objection to the government,” she said.

“We take some money from the parents during student admissions. We cannot run the schools without that money,” she said, urging the government to review the directives.

Hamida said many parents applied for a concession on tuition fees and the institution was considering their requests.

Liakat Hossain Mia, the accountant for National Bangla Public School and College, said they could not pay rents worth Tk 400,000 and power bills while the teachers and employees have dues of four months. In total, the institution owes others Tk 2 million.

 “We can’t pay the costs to run it,” he said.

Many of the parents are asking for discounts on the tuition fees citing shrinking income while many others are not paying at all, said Md Tauhidur Rahman, the principal of Uttara High School and College.

“We are doing our best to move in a balanced way. The teachers also have four months of salaries unpaid,” he said.

Masud Rana, who works at a private firm, said he has not paid the tuition fees to her daughter’s kindergarten for several months after the institution charged the parents tuition fees of two months at a time, saying it would hold exams online.

“They are not giving any lessons. Then why shall I pay tuition fees?” he argued.

AKM Ashraful Haque, the convener of Bangladesh English Medium School Parents Forum, said they were not happy with the government’s notice. “It has created confusions and doesn’t reflect our expectations,” he said.

He alleged that the parents are in trouble as the notice led the schools to pressure them for tuition fees citing half-yearly exams and assignments instead of giving discounts.

Ashraful said the forum will submit a memorandum to Prime minister Sheikh Hasina seeking her directives for discounts on tuition fees during the pandemic, a halt on the practice of preventing students from joining online classes due to their parents’ failure to pay the fees, and introduction of long-term instalment benefits to pay the fees.

Ziaul Kabir Dulu, the president of the Parents’ Unity Forum, said they want the government to roll back the notice and order remission of tuition fees.

“Because most of the parents have suffered income losses while earnings of the others have dropped,” he said.

He demanded government incentives to pay all the teachers of the institutions that are covered partly by the Monthly Pay Order of MPO programme funding.

Belal Hossain, a director at the DSHE, said they received no formal complaint against the notice on tuition fees. “The directives are still in force," he added.