Educational institutions of the country have been effectively shut since 17 March. The closure has been effective till 16 January and likely to be extended if the coronavirus situation does not improve. Under the circumstances, uncertainty looms large for the students and guardians, although the education ministry has announced several plans to overcome the crisis. We hope academic activities will resume soon.

The admission process in educational institutes has been started in the country in the new academic year despite the closure. This good news has become a matter of worry for the guardians. Allegations are there that most of the educational institutions are taking extraneous fees in the name of admission and readmission.

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The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) on 18 November announced in a circular that non-government secondary schools (MPO and non-MPO) can charge only tuition fees from the students. The institutions will not be allowed to take fees for assignments, tiffin, readmission, library, science laboratory and development. But many institutions in the capital are charging extra fees during admission flouting the circular. News reports say that some institutions are taking monthly fees in advance from the students. Library, laboratory, and publication of magazine and sports activities are shut as the institutions are closed. Charging students for these is not only unethical, but also illegal.

DSHE also asked institutions that charged extra fees to adjust that with the tuition fees. Guardians said, most of the institutions did not do that. The trend of defying rules is especially rife among the popular institutions. The ministry in many instances in the past failed to prevent the institutions from charging extra fees. According to news reports, South Point School and College charged Tk 12,000 from students as admission fees in Class VII. The amount was charged in the name of annual session charge (House rent, utility and others). They also charged two monthly fees. Monipur School in Mirpur charged students around Tk 10,000. Of the amount, Tk 8,000 for admission fee, Tk 1,500 for January and Tk 500 as other fees.

It is true that educational institutions have to take fees for the sake of their existence but they cannot charge the students extra fees during the coronavirus situation. What is the point of 'other fees’? Not only the two said schools, many other institutions are also charging the students extra fees.

Educational institutes must stop taking that ‘other fees’. It should be ensured that every institute follows the DSHE directives. Education and students all have to survive.

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