Tension grows between parents and schools over tuition fees

Ershad Kamol | Published: 23:27, Jul 11,2020 | Updated: 00:00, Jul 12,2020


Parents Forum of Mastermind School forms a human chain in front of the school at Dhanmandi in Dhaka on Saturday demanding a 50 per cent waiver for the ongoing online-based outreach education programmes. — New Age photo

Tension is growing between parents and guardians of students and educational institutions over the payment of tuition fees.

Guardians have started street agitations demanding a 50 per cent waiver for the ongoing online-based outreach education programmes while the school authorities want full payment for their existence. 

Parents of students of many institutions have been organising press conferences and human chains to press for tuition fee waiver for their wards arguing that many parents became jobless or were getting reduced salaries amid the coronavirus crisis.

Under various banners, guardians appealed for the waiver also to the government and authorities of non-government schools, kindergartens, English-medium schools and private universities, they said.

From a human chain on Saturday, parents of students of Mastermind School’s Dhanmondi campus demanded a 50 per cent off in the tuition fees arguing that many of them were no longer able to pay Tk 15,000–19,000 in tuition fees.

‘We requested the school authority on July 1 to give us a 50 per cent waiver. And then we applied to the education minister and the education secretary. But, we got no response,’ Shomy Ibrahim, a parent told New Age.

‘We have failed to make them realise the reality that many parents have become jobless while many others get a 50 per cent of their salaries now,’ she said.

Pursuing a similar argument, parents of HURDCO International School are scheduled to stage a human chain at the school premises in Bashundhara on Sunday, said a parent named Kalyan Wadder.

Both Shomy and Kalyan said that the online-based courses offered by the institutions were not up to the mark while the courses forced them to spend additional money on devices and expensive Internet data packs for their children.

Mastermind principal Fakhruddin could not be contacted for comment but HURDCO International School principal Jinnat Ali said that their school already gave all students a 20 per cent waiver and did not increase the tuition fees by 10 per cent in the new semester they used to do.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Bangladesh English Medium School Parents also demanded a 50 per cent waiver in the tuition fees.

Kindergarten owners and unpaid teachers in past few days also formed human chains to demand government financial support for the salaries of the teachers and the rents of the schools.

The owners of non-government schools, kindergartens, English-medium schools and private universities also appealed for government aid to continue their operations.

Asked for comment, educationist and Dhaka University English professor Syed Manzoorul islam lamented the lack of government action to solve the crisis in the greater interest of the education of an estimated four crore students.

English-medium school parents’ forum convenor AKM Ashraful Haque said that 90 per cent parents of the estimated 4,00,00 students studying in over 450 English-medium schools are enduring financial crisis in the prevailing crisis.

These schools, he claimed, charged Tk 5,000 to Tk 50,00,000 in tuition fees and the parents have to spend on average Tk 10,000 for each student as additional expenses.

Ziaul Kabir Dulu, president of Abhibhabak Oikya Forum, a platform of parents of non-government schools, said that the forum would soon seek Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention demanding tuition fee waiver as they did not get any response from the education ministry despite demanding 100 per cent waiver on June 10.

Ziaul Kabir also demanded of the government to force the renowned schools to pay teachers from their huge deposits and to instruct them not to create pressure on the parents for the tuition fees.

Private University Students Alliance appealed to the university authorities and to the University Grants Commission for the waiver of their tuition fees arguing that the online classes were not as effective as the classroom lectures.

Bangladesh Kindergarten Association, Bangladesh Kindergarten School o College Oikya Parishad and English-Medium School Association of Bangladesh in separate programmes sought soft loans from the government to continue the operations of their schools.

Education minister Dipu Moni in June said that the government was planning to provide free internet data and devices to the students.

Dhaka Education Board chairman Md Ziaul Haque said that the board requested the school authorities not to expel students for not paying their tuition fees. 

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