MOST of the English-medium schools running unlicensed is worrying. Only 118 English-medium schools in Dhaka and two others in Chattogram are, as New Age reported on Sunday, registered with education boards while about 500 schools offering primary to A level courses and about 4,000 kindergartens offering courses up to Grade VIII are said to be in operation without permission. Most of these unregistered schools are reported to have no documents other than trade licences obtained from city or municipal authorities as educational consultants, not as educational institutions. This appears to be a blatant violation of the Registration of Private Schools Ordinance 1962 and the Private School Registration Rules 2017 that require all schools, even English-medium schools, to register with the authorities concerned. Registered schools are also reported to ignore rules and regulations such as approval for managing committees or the submission of annual audit reports to the government. Both the registered and the unregistered English-medium schools are thus reported to exploit students by way of charging high tuition fees and making decisions on their own.
Such a situation has turned the schools and kindergartens into money-making enterprises by private companies and trusts that run them. The schools charge, as the Bangladesh English-Medium School Parents’ Forum says, Tk 5,000–50,000 in tuition fees and spend less than 40 per cent of the income on salaries and other purposes. The High Court in May 2017 directed English-medium schools to register with relevant authorities, obtain approval for managing committees and publish audit reports on web sites keeping to the 1962 ordinance and the 2017 registrations. The court also asked the education ministry to execute the directive in six months. The directive appears to have been ignored by both the institutions and the ministry. More English-medium schools and kindergartens, meanwhile, come into operation every year and enrol a growing number of students, promising quality education. But in reality, they run as business enterprises and do not ensure quality education. The government has largely left the issue unattended and has let the schools run with complete disregard for rules and regulations.
The government and the authorities concerned must, therefore, ensure that all English-medium schools and kindergartens go by the rules and regulations. The government must also facilitate and ease the registration process as many schools have complained of delay in registration. The government must set a ceiling on tuition fees for such schools and have a monitoring mechanism to oversee that these schools do not exploit students and offer quality education.
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