Rise of tuition fee frustrates the guardians

24 January 2016
Rise of tuition fee frustrates the guardians

Masum Billah :
Following the government's declaration to raise the salary of 21lakh government employees, the privately run schools have abnormally raised the tuition fees of the students which compelled a lion's share of the guardians to take to the streets as many of them don't have the means to bear the additional expenditure of education for their kids. Though many learners read in the same school and wear the same dress, their financial ability stands far apart from each other and this is the reality. On mass tuition and admission fees rise really frustrates them.
Guardians are frustrated as the tuition fees of the students in city's schools have skyrocketed suddenly on the pretext of new pay scale announced by the government. Only 35 government schools in the capital city can accommodate only 10,200 students a year. What about lakhs of students? They rush to the 341 private schools. Besides, students got enrolled in several thousand kindergarten schools. But without any prior notice, the big schools have suddenly increased their tuition fees by 50 percent to 100 percent showing thumbs to the ministry of education and law and order of the country.  Knowing the tuition fees to be Tk 800, the guardians got their children admitted to the schools, but they have to pay now Tk 1,500. The admission fee also has been raised abnormally. The guardians are facing serious trouble in meeting these extra expenses as many of them have to maintain their families facing hardship.
The authorities of some private schools argue that they have decided to increase the tuition fees of the students keeping in line with the new pay scale. They said, "Although the schools are MPO-listed, the authorities have to pay the salaries of majority of the teachers because of the higher number of students and teachers. In no school more than 10 percent teachers are included in the MPO.
As the salaries of the MPO-listed teachers have been doubled under the new pay scale, the salaries of other teachers also have to be increased and hence the rise in the tuition fee of the students." This argument is also not unacceptable. It's a peculiar rule of the government that a particular number of teachers enjoy MPO facilities in some schools even though these schools have to undergo huge pressure of students. The rule seems to be unusual. When the number of students gets higher definitely those schools must have higher number of teachers to keep teacher-student ratio balanced. But the interesting thing is that the government does not pay the salaries of those additional teachers which means it does not accept the additional students.
It is nothing but a peculiar system. Either all the teachers of a schools must have MPO or not. Particularly the big and established schools of the cities and towns need not be enrolled in MPO list rather this money can be spent for the rural teachers where teachers are not available, guardians are comparatively poor and the school committees are also not financially solvent. When this can be done, there will be no discrepancy between the teachers of MPO and non-MPO working in the same school.  The present practice shows the hollowness of the system.
Raising the tuition and admission fees the guardians view this as a lame excuse. They are saying that school fees have been increased by 50 to 100 percent. To increase the salaries of the teachers even one-fourth of the money to be realised from enhanced tuition, will not be required. Basically, showing expenses on different heads, the members of the school managing committee will make their pockets heavier with this money. This is another serious disease going with this sector. It has been heard and learnt from umpteen times that the school committee members of the big schools of Dhaka and other big cities fatten their pocket taking money illegally from the guardians on different pretexts but no action is taken or no transparent rule has been developed yet.
The guardians give examples thus that the total number of students on the four campuses of the Viqarunnisa Noon School in the capital is 25,000 while that of the teachers and employees is 750. Of them, 52 teachers and employees are MPO-listed. To increase the salaries of remaining 700 teachers and employees, the tuition fees of 25,000 students have been almost doubled. Even one-fourth of the amount to be earned thus by the school authorities will not be spent to raise the salaries of the teachers.
The number of students in the Wills Little Flower School is 9,322 and of the 432 teachers and employees 34 are MPO-listed. The tuition fees of the 9,000 students have been doubled to increase the salaries of 398 teachers and employees. But in reality only a small amount of money will be required to raise the salaries.   
Education has already been proved to be a commercial commodity which sounds very bad. With the further increase of tuition and admission fee it is going beyond the reach of majority guardians. It must be given a second thought.  
To satisfy the government employees the government has declared a new pay scale which received many feedbacks and criticism from different corners, still the government is adamant to implement it. When such kind of declaration comes from the government, it normally invites money inflation and price inflation and interesting enough that we don't have actually any mechanism to control these devils. Dishonest businessmen and their cronies don't miss any moment to grasp this opportunity. This situation brings untold miseries to the commoners which no government or no authorities could try to understand ever.
They remain busy with greasing some particular sections of the society for some unknown reasons. Its adverse effect fall upon every sector and everything inviting some unpleasant situation across the country. So, what is the necessity of such kind of extra and unnecessary jerking in economic field of the country when we find it extremely difficult to the situation stable?  Again, the government is distributing books free of cost among the students whereas they turn a deaf ear to this serious issue which has created  a big question in the field of education.
(Masum Billah works in BRAC Education Program as an specialist and writes regularly on various national and international issues), Email: masumbillah65@gmail.com)

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