Amid the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, the parents are struggling to pay the tuition fees of their children while the educational institutions are trying to survive by realising the fees from students
- There are five crore students in about 1.5 lakh government, the government's monthly payment order (MPO)-listed and private educational institutions in the country.
- Manzoor Ahmed, Prof Emeritus of Brac University, said, "We have demanded the formation of a committee at each upazila to identify families that are facing severe financial crisis."
- The Private University Students Alliance has appealed to private universities and to the University Grants Commission for waiving their tuition fees.
- Bangladesh Private Medical and Dental Students Association on Sunday demanded a decrease in tuition and hostel fees.
- The guardians of Mastermind School's Dhanmondi campus formed a human chain on Saturday demanding a 50 percent waiver in tuition fees.
Most middle and lower-middle-income families are struggling to survive as many of them either have lost their jobs or are counting losses in their businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In this situation, parents have fallen into deep trouble as educational institutions are pressuring them to pay tuition fees. Some schools are not even allowing students who have not paid tuition fees to participate in online classes and examinations.
The guardians have already started agitation and have expressed deep concern over the tuition fee issue.
Kamrul Hasan, the parent of a student of Motijheel Ideal School and College, told The Business Standard, "I had a small business in the capital's Tikatuli area. But my business is closed now due to the pandemic. I have spent all my savings in paying house rent, daily expenses and children's tuition fees. Now I have no money at hand. It is impossible to earn money now. But, the school's teachers are pressuring me to pay the tuition fees of my son. I am very worried about it. I have to stop my child's schooling. I told the school about my financial condition but they did not realise it."
Shahan Ara Begum, principal of Motijheel Ideal School and College, said they actually had not put any pressure on the guardians. "We have to run the institution. How we will do it if the guardians do not pay," she asked.
The guardians of English medium school students are demanding a 50 percent waiver in tuition fees during the time of coronavirus pandemic. They argue that the guardians are jobless and counting losses. They point out that the schools' expenses have reduced as they are now just conducting online classes. So, the guardians expect the schools to be humane.
The guardians of Mastermind School's Dhanmondi campus formed a human chain on Saturday demanding a 50 percent waiver of tuition fees. They said many of them are unable to pay the tuition fees as their financial condition is vulnerable.
Barrister Omar Faruk, president of the parents' association of DPS STS School, Dhaka, told The Business Standard that many guardians cannot not continue their children's schooling due to the financial crisis.
Omar Faruk said, "As of now the schools are just conducting online classes, charging high tuition fees is illogical. We have submitted an application to the school for a 50 percent decrease in fees. But they are yet to take any decision in this regard."
About 200 guardians, who have been severely affected by the pandemic, have requested the school to reduce the fees.
Madhu Wal, principal of DPS STS School, said the school had been continuing the regular maintenance of all the equipment like fire-fighting tools, generators, air conditioners and water tanks. Besides, the school is paying the city corporation tax, deep pump renewal fee, insurance premium and bearing the security and cleaning cost.
"The School continues to keep in close contact with students and parents to counsel and support them in the most efficient manner possible. There will be no tuition fee hike for 2020-2021," the principal said.
Ziaul Kabir Dulu, president of the Bangladesh Guardians' Forum, said many schools in the city had sent letters to the guardians to pay tuition fees in advance, which was inhumane. "They do not follow the education ministry's directive of being humane in charging fees," he added.
Prof Ziaul Haque, chairman of the Dhaka Education Board, said, "We request schools and colleges to consider the guardians' financial condition. It will be unexpected if any action needs to be taken against the schools and colleges."
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Private Medical and Dental Students Association on Sunday demanded a decrease in tuition and hostel fees. The organisation will also hold a human chain in front of the National Press Club on Tuesday to press home their demand.
Md Suruz Islam, president of the organisation, told The Business Standard that their parents are not capable of paying the tuition fees and hostel fees.
"We have submitted a memorandum to the prime minister, the education ministry, medical and dental colleges, Dhaka University, Bangladesh Medical Association and other medical and dental related organisations. But we did not get any response as yet," he said.
At the same time, the Private University Students Alliance has appealed to private universities and to the University Grants Commission for waiving tuition fees. The alliance argues that online classes are not as effective as classroom lectures.
Manzoor Ahmed, Prof Emeritus of Brac University, said, "We have demanded the formation of a committee at each upazila to identify families that are facing severe financial crisis. We have also demanded a special allocation in the budget to help the families so that they can continue their children's study. But our demand has not been fulfilled."
There are five crore students in about 1.5 lakh government monthly payment order (MPO)-listed and private educational institutions in the country.