Guardians demonstrate against hike in tuition fees in Dhaka, Chittagong

The guardians of private school and college students in Dhaka and Chittagong have been demonstrating against the hike in tuition fees after a raise in the salary of public servants as per the new pay scale.

Published : 15 Jan 2016, 07:04 PM
Updated : 15 Jan 2016, 09:39 PM

They allege the authorities of the institutions are charging more to increase salaries of teachers and officials.

The guardians organised human-chain protests in front of several schools and staged sit-ins over the past two weeks.

They also submitted a memorandum to Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid.

But they are unhappy with the government’s show of indifference.

Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) Director General Fahima Khatun said there is no scope of raising salaries and allowances without government instruction.

The directorate has sent a letter to the education ministry seeking instructions over the issue, media reports said.

The fees have been doubled in ‘almost all’ schools, according to Ziaul Kabir Dulu who heads the Guardians’ Unity Forum, a Dhaka-based organisation.

“Schools are using the pay scale as an excuse to resort to looting,” he said.

A number of educational institutions in Dhaka have increased fees by 70 to 100 per cent.

Among them are BIAM Model School and College, Ideal School and College, Udayan Higher Secondary School and College, Mohammadpur Preparatory Higher Secondary Girls' School and College, Shaheed Police Smrity School and College, Shaheed Bir Uttam Lt Anwar Girls' School and College, and Bangladesh Bank High School and College.

The hike is from 20 to 50 per cent in many other institutions, including Mirpur Cantonment Public School and College, Dhaka Residential Model College, Saint Joseph’s Higher Secondary School, National Ideal School and College, Siddheswari Girls’ High School, and Junior Laboratory School.

In Chittagong, guardians at 46 schools run by the city corporation and Navy School and College at the EPZ have also been protesting against the rise in fees.

Last Wednesday, police clubbed the protesting guardians in front of the institution at the EPZ.

The guardians of the students of Willes Little Flower School and College in Dhaka have announced a sit-in programme on the school premises for an indefinite period from Sunday.

A guardian, Harunur Rashid told the institution has raised monthly fees for Bengali medium students from Tk 1,300 to Tk 2,100 and from Tk 600 to Tk 1,100 for different classes. The fee for English medium students has gone up from Tk 1,900 to Tk 2,750.

The guardians said the fee hike following the raise in the salaries of public servants, has put them under major financial pressure.

The school and college authorities said they have no alternative but to raise the salaries of the teachers and officials.

Shamima Sultana, spokesperson for the demonstrating guardians of the students of the institution, said they submitted memoranda to the education minister and DSHE on Wednesday demanding withdrawal of the hiked fees.

“We are demonstrating. But there is no response,” she said.

DSHE Director General Khatun told the media on Thursday that the directorate has served a notice on the institution to explain the rationale behind the extra fees.

Its Principal Abul Hossain told on Friday the authorities were yet to get the show-cause notice.

“We will send a reply when we get the notice,” he said.

About the hike in tuition fees, he said, “Salaries of others have increased in the pay scale. Now the salaries have to go up here, too. That’s why the tuition fees have been raised.”

According to him, the institution has 398 teachers and officials.

“How will we pay their salaries and allowances if we do not raise (tuition fees)?” he asked.

“Moreover, the teachers and officials have threatened to go on strike for a pay scale,” he added.

Principal Hossain admitted that the hike in fees was ‘a little too high’ in some cases.

The fees have gone up by an average of 49 percent progressively.
He claimed the rate of hike was near to those of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, and Ideal School and College.

Guardians of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College students have also been demonstrating against the hike in tuition fees in the institution.  
They demonstrated in front of the main campus on Thursday demanding withdrawal of the extra fees.
According to them, the monthly fees have increased from Tk 800 to Tk 1,500 for grade one, from Tk 800 to Tk 1,600 for grades two to six, and from Tk 900 to Tk 2,200 for grades seven to 10.
Principal Sufia Khatun told 70 percent of its teachers are not under the Monthly Payment Order (MPO) programme.

“But we have to pay them like those under MPO. The entire amount comes from the school’s own earnings in the form of tuition fees, development fees and admission fees,” she said.

“It’s not possible to raise teachers’ salary without hiking the fees. We have been forced to raise the fees,” she added.

Principal Khatun also claimed the hike has not been finalised for all grades, though the guardians say the institution has already started charging extra.

One of them, Mehedi Hasan, told 145 of around 700 teachers are paid under the MPO programme.

“Raising the fees by Tk 200 for each of around 24,000 students should be enough to double the teachers’ salaries,” he argued.

“The institution will earn extra Tk 180 to 200 million if it doubles the tuition fees. This much money will not be needed to double the teachers’ pay,” he pointed out.

DSHE Director (Secondary Education) Elias Hossain told the directorate is taking step against the schools that did not follow the admission guidelines issued last year.

He said the directorate investigated the allegation that Willes Little Flower School and College is charging extra fees.

“The report has been sent to the education ministry. It will make the next move,” he said.

Investigations into similar allegations against the other schools are underway, he added.

According to the guidelines the education ministry issued on Oct 29 last year, the Bengali medium institutions, which are partly under the MPO programme in Dhaka metropolitan area, can charge a student maximum Tk 8,000 during admission.

The charges include monthly, session, and development fees.

The maximum amount is Tk 10,000 for English medium schools.