Things that make you to Think

The Bottom line of Education

The story, published in UNSEEN, the weekend magazine of The Daily Sun, tells you about how parents are having to pay a king’s ransom for their children’s schooling…(?)

Untitled-3copyJafar (not his real name), a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) candidate of Aggrodut School & College at Savar, could not register for his SSC examination. He was asked to pay Tk 30,000, which includes a Tk 15,000 registration fee with the rest of the amount being unpaid tuition fees. The tution fee of this school is Tk 3000 per month. Jafar’s parents managed Tk 12,000, but the principal still demanded the full amount.

The College of Finance and Management in Savar collects Tk 20,000 as security deposit from students who fail the test examination, on the condition that it will return the money with an additional Tk 2000 to students who pass the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination. Because of this, many students of the college who failed the test examination are facing many difficulties. The school board says that it collects this amount as a way of putting pressure on the students
Providing education has become a profitable business. Private schools and colleges are more concerned with making profits than providing quality education. Many private schools and colleges are nothing but business establishments with a façade.

These educational institutions make incredible profits from the students‘ registration of SSC and HSC examination. Many reputed schools usually charge fees which exceed the amount determined by the education board. This information was cited by many students.

When advertising the institutions, private schools and colleges offer attractive facilities and scholarships to students. This motivates guardians to admit their children to these schools. According to many students and guardians, these private institutions take various fees but rarely provide any of the facilities. Students face another problem when registering for SSC and HSC examinations; they are not allowed to do so if any of the fees are left unpaid.

This makes parents worried about continuing the education of their children. However, as they have no other choice, they have to go through many difficulties in order to accumulate the large amount of registration fee. It is also noticed that both SSC and HSC candidates are required to be admitted to the coaching centres of their respective schools and colleges. This becomes unbearable when the parents have to pay mandatory coaching fees and model test fees on top of the registration fees despite having no interest in admitting their children to the respective institution’s coaching centre. However, as they are not satisfied with the schools‘ coaching and model tests, they have to depend on private coaching centres, which add more to their burden.

Taslima Akter, a resident of Khilgoan says, “My daughter is an SSC candidate of Quality Education School and College and I have to pay Tk 13,500 for her SSC registration, which includes the form, coaching fee, model test fee and tuition fee up to March 2011.”

Like many parents, Taslima believes that coaching and model tests should not be compulsory, because if one is not satisfied with the school’s coaching, there is no reason for them to go there. “Moreover it is an extra financial burden on us because, while private schools and colleges do not provide good quality education, they still want excessive fees,” she adds.

Aggrodut School & College, Schoolex, Collegex, Sangshaptak School & College, Child Heaven School, Collegiate School, and College of Finance & Management are all private schools and colleges situated in Savar, Dhaka. These schools are all allegedly charging excessive and unnecessary fees.

For example, the students of Aggrodut School and College have to pay Tk 6800 for their SSC registration while their tution fee is Tk 3000 per month. The principal of the school, Delwar Hossain says, “If a student comes to my home at night with a mathematical problem I am ready to help him. The school teachers are always there to help the students. For this special service I have to pay some honorarium to the teachers. So, I have to charge additional money from the students.”

Schoolex and Collegex are both under one principal and charge exorbitant amounts of money from both SSC and HSC candidates. The SSC candidates of Schoolex pay Tk 7000 while HSC candidates of Collegex have to pay Tk 8000 as registration fee. Moreover, both SSC and HSC candidates are required to get admitted to E-Haq Coaching Centre in Savar, which is also run by the same principal. The students of both Schoolex and Collegex have to pay Tk 6000-Tk 6500 coaching fee at the coaching centre.

A guardian, whose child is an HSC candidate of Collegex, faced much difficulty to manage the Tk 14,000 for the registration and the coaching fees. He says, “No laws exist in this college. We do not even get to know that we have to pay such an unreasonable and excessive fee. We only hear about the fees at the last moment when the HSC examination is knocking at the door.”

“They run the college in such a way that we are bound to pay the fees they demand because, at the last moment before the HSC registration we are left with no other option,” he adds.

Kamruzzaman, the principal of Schoolex, Collegex and director of E-Haq coaching center, refused to speak to this reporter when contacted over telephone.

Another private institution, Sangshaptak School and College at Savar, has only two SSC candidates. Incredibly, not only do they charge additional fees from the students, but the authorities do not provide a money receipt to the students. “I am waiting to get out of this institution after passing the board examination,” said one of the students.

The chairman of Sangshaptak School and College Shah Alam Siddique also refused to speak over the phone when contacted by this reporter.

“This business can only be stopped if the ministry of education runs a strong monitoring body to control these schools and colleges. However, this corrupt practice still survives because these schools and colleges always get patronised by powerful leaders,” he added.

“Guardians should come forward to speak against this education business. They should unite and protest against these private schools and colleges and also keep themselves informed about the realities of the education system,” said eminent Littérateur and writer Serajul Islam Choudhury. “Guardians should not go for coaching centres either in institutes or elsewhere. Guardians should take a strong position against this corrupt practice and force the schools and colleges to provide good education for their children,” he added.

Shilpi Shaha, a guardian whose child is an SSC candidate, posed a questioned: “We see many reports and articles on the lack of a proper education system but no action is taken. If we do not get good quality education from the government how will our children become assets of this nation and what will be the condition of the next generation?”

The present government is considering providing free education to all students up to graduation level. It is also planning to provide free books to secondary school students from January 1, 2011. But, if the level of education at the schools and colleges is not brought up to standards, there will always be a demand for the private institutions, even at the exorbitant fees they charge. .

click here to view the story on archive.

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