Secondary and Higher Education Division has instructed that no fees other than tuition fees can be taken from the students during the pandemic period. All educational institutions have been closed since 17 March due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Such an instruction should have been given long ago. The dispute between parents and educational institution authorities over the tuition fees of the students has become evident. Parents say tuition fees should be halved as educational institutions are closed. Authorities say they will not be able to pay teachers and staff if tuition fees are reduced. Although it is late, we hope that the division’s guidance will be helpful in solving the problem.
The government has extended the closure of educational institutions till 19 December. But the students must not stop studying because of the closure. Educational institutions are teaching online, although it is not possible for all students to take the classes. Many educational institutions, especially in rural areas, do not have the opportunity to conduct online classes.
Will the students pay without taking lessons in the educational institutions? Again, if the students do not pay fees, the teachers and employees of the educational institution will not get their salaries and allowances. There is no such problem in government educational institutions. Teachers and employees working there receive salaries and allowances from the government. The salaries paid by the students are also deposited in the government treasury.
The government can provide loan assistance to financially indigent educational institutions so that they do not face any problem even if they waive the tuition fees of the students
However, private educational institutions are largely dependent on student fees. There are two types of private educational institutions- MPO and non-MPO. A large part of the salary of MPO registered educational institutions is paid by the government. In that case, they also face less problems. But it has become difficult for non-MPO educational institutions to survive.
In this situation, both the authorities and the guardians of the educational institution have to understand the gravity of the problem. The instructions given by the Secondary and Higher Education Division last Wednesday could serve as a solution to the problem. In other words, both parties have to make some concessions.
According to the instructions, educational institutions cannot charge any fees other than tuition fees. It is to be noted that the number of assignments, tiffin, re-admission, library, science library, magazine and development fees taken from the students is considerable. We believe the division’s proposal is realistic. There is no reason to pay additional costs as the educational institutions are closed. If an educational institution charges extra fees, it must be refunded or adjusted to the next month, as per the instruction.
Most of the educational institutions in the country are financially indigent. Many educational institutions are unable to pay salaries and allowances to teachers with their own income. Their condition has become more deplorable during the pandemic. In this situation, it is not possible to pay salaries and allowances to the teachers and employees with their own income. The division asked the respective institution to consider the matter of tuition fees sympathetically for financially indigent students. We also think that arrangements should be made so that no student's studies are stopped due to tuition fees. Again, the educational institutions have to be protected.
To overcome the crisis, the government can provide loan assistance to financially indigent educational institutions so that they do not face any problem even if they waive the tuition fees of the students. However, the division’s responsibility should not end with instructions, supervision should also be continued. Many educational institutions had taken extra admission fee before the instructions came. It could not be implemented even after the High Court ordered it to be returned. The secondary and higher education division has to make sure that it does not happen again.