A dilemma has emerged over tuition fees of private educational institutions, from schools to universities. Several educational institutions are pressuring parents to pay the entire tuition fees in one go, including arrears, which is not reasonable given the ongoing situation.
Many parents took to the streets in protest, unable to pay such a huge amount at this time of crisis due to financial constraints. Again, some institutions are not able to pay the salaries of teachers and employees without tuition fees.
Parents have been forming human chains in front of some educational institutions in the capital, especially in front of English medium and big schools. There have been multiple writ petitions in the High Court on the issue of tuition fees. The common demand of the parents of almost all the schools is to halve the tuition fees during the pandemic. The guardians have also demanded to take the money in installments.
Whether the tuition fee will be halved or less as demanded by the parents is a matter for discussion. However, given the current reality, the demands of the parents cannot be ignored.
The heads of the institutions say that tuition fees are their only source of income.... Salaries and allowances of teachers and employees cannot be paid without tuition fees
Many educational institutions are taking online classes during the coronavirus period. The cost of these institutions has been reduced to some extent. Apart from that, many schools and colleges have their own funds. Parents never asked for fee reduction or payment in installments before the pandemic. Now they have been asking for reduction of fees due to a special situation. Many people lost their jobs or had a salary-cut due to the pandemic in the country.
From the beginning, the education ministry remained neutral. It called both the parties to make adjustments. The Dhaka Board of Education issued a notice on 23 April stating that parents cannot be forced to pay tuition fees, but to no avail.
The guardians continue to protest while the institutions go on sending reminders to pay the fees. Some institutions threaten the parents that their children would not be promoted to next class if tuition fees are not paid.
The ministry of education or the ministry of primary and mass education cannot remain silent. The ministry must address the private educational institutions logically.
The heads of the educational institutions say that tuition fees are their only source of income. They do not receive financial support or grants from the government. Therefore, salaries and allowances of teachers and employees cannot be paid without tuition fees.
In the current situation, everyone needs to be very understanding. Educational institutions that can afford to run for the next few months should offer maximum discounts to the parents. These institutions can consider of taking fees in installments and waiving the fee for the extremely poor guardians. And the parents who can afford it, should pay the fees. It should be taken into consideration that the institutions will fail to pay the teachers if they do not get the money.
The ministry of education or the ministry of primary and mass education cannot remain silent. The ministry must address the private educational institutions logically. The two ministries can play a mediating role in this matter. Their responsibility is to sit down with all parties and make justified decisions. The aim should be to protect the interests of the educational institutions as well as the parents.