Youth burdened with expenses

A student studies at a library in KhulnaProthom Alo

Ashiqur Rahman from Rangpur sat for eight job exams in four weeks in Dhaka in October last year. He had to spend more than Tk 10,000 in that one month on travelling expenses and exam fees. He said one has to spend at least Tk 700 to apply for a first-class job. And travelling to and from Dhaka once to sit for an exam costs at least Tk 2000. The job seeking youths struggle to gather the necessary funds to pay the application fee and bear the travel and living expenses in Dhaka again and again for each exam.

Ashiqur’s case is not an isolated one. Almost all youths arrive in Dhaka each Friday and Saturday to sit for job exams have a similar story. Every job seeking youth needs at least Tk 8,000-10,000 each to cover the costs of job application fees, travelling to and from Dhaka, living expenses and other miscellaneous expenses in every month. But these youths neither have a source of income nor do they have any other scope of employment. How are they supposed to bear this expense?

No job even after spending Tk 10,000 every month

After a gap of almost one and a half years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, various government institutes and ministries began holding job exams from last year’s September. As every institute was holding job exams simultaneously, on an average 15 different job exams were taking place each Friday. After Covid-19 transmission increased in December, the number of job exams reduced. From March, fresh job circulars started getting published. New dates were set for the job exams that were suspended due to Covid-19.

Job seeking youths have to spend a lot in exam fees and other related expenses. So, it’s unfair to take more than what it costs to hold recruitment exams from the job seekers
Ali Imam Majumder, Former cabinet secretary

As many government institutes are setting dates for job exams simultaneously, many fear that once again multiple exams will take place at the same time. Due to this, even after spending over Tk 10,000 on exam fee and other exam related expenditures, many won’t get their much desired job.

How much is the exam fee for first and second class

In government offices, the application fee for first and second class jobs is usually Tk 500-700. But in some autonomous institutions the fee is double. Recently, in job circulars of some autonomous institutes, the job application fee was seen to be Tk 1,000. Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (DESCO) has set the application fee for one position at Tk 1,500. The job seekers find such high fees to be abnormal and have expressed their annoyance.

In the circular published in the DESCO website, it says that the organisation will appoint 81 people in 10 positions. For six of those positions, the application fee is Tk 1,500 and for the rest the fee is Tk 1000.

Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) has set the application fee for multiple first and second class positions at Tk 1000. For a second class job, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDP) has set the admission fee at Tk 1000. But on the other hand, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) has set the admission fee for a first class job at Tk 500.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder told Prothom Alo, job seeking youths have to spend a lot in exam fees and other related expenses. So, it’s unfair to take more than what it costs to hold recruitment exams from the job seekers. If a job seeker is unhappy with the fee, then he could lodge a complaint to the ministry under which the exam is being held.

No rules over setting application fee

A job seeker named Minhajul Islam told Prothom Alo, there is no co-ordination between the government organisations. For similar positions, different organisations have set different application fees. Majority of the job seekers apply with their earnings from giving tuitions. In rural areas, many don’t earn even Tk 1000 a month for teaching a student. For them it’s extremely difficult to collect Tk 1500 to apply for one job.

During the Covid-19 restrictions, we held bank jobs online. On each of those exams, nearly 30,000 candidates took part. The total cost was only Tk 150,000-200,000. Had we taken the exam in person, it would have cost Tk 3-4 million (30-40 lakh)
AKM Fahim Mashroor, Chief executive officer of Bdjobs

To know the reason behind such a high exam fee, DESCO managing director Md Kawsar Amir Ali was phoned a number of times but he didn’t pick up the calls.

When asked about their lofty exam fees, a BADC official told Prothom Alo, “Many government institutes get government allocations to hold recruitment exams, BADC gets no such allocation. Renting a centre for exams and other exam related tasks costs a lot of money. That’s why we have set the application fee at Tk 1000.”

Tk 5000 spent a month on just application fee

Raihanul Islam, a graduate of political science from Dhaka College, said that there is no guarantee of getting a job if you apply at just one place. For that reason, he will apply at multiple places at the same time. Every month, he spends Tk 4000-5000 just on the application fee, which is very difficult for him.

Application fee and service charge in different grades

Generally, for 9th and 10th grade jobs the application fee is Tk 500-700, for 11th-17th grade it’s Tk 300-400 and for 18th-20th grade it’s Tk 50-100. Some autonomous institutes take up to Tk 1000 as application fee. To pay Tk 500 application fee one has to spend another Tk 60 as service charge. And if one pays an application fee through a bank, that person would have to spend an extra Tk 23 for service charge and vat for payment of equal or less than Tk 1000.

When asked how the exam related expenses could be reduced, Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC)’s former chairman Md Sadique said, we have tried holding the preliminary exams in district towns, this reduced the travelling expenses. Other institutes could follow this model. If they follow this, the application fee could also be reduced, I believe.

Bangladesh Bank the exception

Bangladesh Bank has set the job application fee for government banks. Job application fee in banks that are members of Bankers Selection Committee cost Tk 200. And job seekers don’t have to pay anything to apply for a job in Bangladesh Bank.

Are government institutes using exams as an income source?

Sabbir Hossain, a graduate in social science from Dhaka University, told Prothom Alo, “In developed countries, the government gives allowances to the unemployed. In our country, forget unemployment allowance, various government institutes view their recruitment exam as one of their main sources of income. The government institutes are competing to see who can set the highest application fee. Like government banks, the application fee should be a fixed amount for government institutes too.”

One candidate spends Tk 35,000 on application fee

Against 54,304 vacancies in Non-government Teachers Registration and Certification Authority (NTRCA), nearly 9 million (90 lakh) applications were submitted. That means for every vacancy, there are 160 candidates.

A source from NTRC said, one person is allowed to apply at different educational institutes, which makes determining the total number of applicants difficult. But a total of 9 million applications were submitted and for each submission Tk 100 was taken. So, NTRC has earned a humongous Tk 900 million (90 crores) from application fees.

Monowar Hossain from Sylhet has been recommended for recruitment. Speaking to Prothom Alo he said that at first he applied for schools and colleges with Tk 350. He gave the preliminary, written and oral exam with that payment. He then had to pay Tk 100 separately to apply for each institute. He applied to 280 institutes. For each application, he spent Tk 100 on application fee, paid Tk 20 to the shop where he applied from and another Tk 6 was cut for a text message. So each application cost him Tk 126. So, in total he had to spend Tk 35,630 on job applications to be a teacher.

Online exam reduces expenses by 90 per cent

Chief executive officer of Bdjobs, AKM Fahim Mashroor, told Prothom Alo, job application fee should not be taken at all for government and non-government jobs. During the Covid-19 restrictions, we held bank jobs online. On each of those exams, nearly 30,000 candidates took part. The total cost was only Tk 150,000-200,000. Had we taken the exam in person, it would have cost Tk 3-4 million (30-40 lakh). So, if we take exams online the cost reduces by 90 per cent.

He further said taking online exams reduces costs for organisations and also saves the candidates from hassle, especially for candidates who live outside of Dhaka.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy