Countless public and private schools have been found to be directly ignoring directives issued by the Ministry of Education and the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE).
Many have gone as far as to ignore court orders.
According to ministry and DSHE sources, many educational institutions have been found to have been extorting money from students in the name of admission and session fees, forms, among a series of fronts.
In light of these allegations, Joint Secretary (Law & Audit) Ahmed Shamim Al Razi instructed the institutions concerned to adhere to a set of directives issued in 2014.
The DSHE too has since then repeatedly attempted to assert the directives, but to no avail.
Institutions stand accused of extorting money in a myriad set of ways ranging from: student parliament, religious events, literary and cultural events, outdoor sports, red crescent, cadet, magazines, transportation, seminar, development funds, security, night guards, practical exams, identity cards, mosque development, etc.
DSHE Director (Secondary) Prof Abdul Mannan said: “If they are government institutions, we act decisively immediately. But there is a lot about private institutions we do not know about. But if anyone complaints, we take action.”
There are allegations that public educational institutions are extorting students in spite of the government having clear instructions on charging students. Academic councils have no grounds to ignore the government directive to procure more money. Moreover, funds allocated for one purpose frequently end up spent in another sector.
On August 30, the DSHE issued another directive requesting the institutions to only take money from the students as per the government order.
Various private educational institutions have been noted for not complying with regulations regarding staff recruitment. Several senior officials with the Education Ministry said even renowned institutions are essentially involved in malpractices when it came to hiring teachers.
Many teachers, despite being hired, cannot be enlisted to the Monthly Pay Order (MPO) because of this. In addition, many who get listed are later removed. Since evidence of corruption in hiring teachers is scarce, authorities have little ground to pursue decisive action.
Prof Mannan admitted to as such, saying: “Nobody wants to complain even when they are the victims. This just defeats our purpose.”
Hashem Ali was a security guard for Tethulia Girls High School in Bagha, Rajshahi. He spent years staying up late at night keeping watch but school authorities have refused to pay him his dues.
When the matter was brought to government’s attention, the High Court, on August 27, ordered the school authorities to pay him. Over three months have passed, but Hashem Ali has yet to see a penny.
The school’s interim principal Dolena Khatun said she told the school committee to pay Hashem.
She said: “We have no separate fund for our school, so we have been unable to pay him. We will inform the DSHE of this matter so that the government pays Hashem from state funds.”
Hashem alleged that his salary was cut off after a case was filed against him. He added that he appealed to the High Court which released him and also asked the school to pay him his Tk1.46 lakh dues.
“The school says they have no money to pay me. How am I supposed to live under these circumstances?” Hashem complained.
On the other hand, Enamul Hoque, principal of Vellabaria Abdul Wahed High School in Lalpur, Natore, stands accused of forging signatures to hire himself. After he was permanently enlisted, he allegedly opened another school branch and hired two more teachers after received a Tk13 lakh bribe. The DSHE came to know of the allegations and asked its officers to investigate.
In his defence, Enamul said he was transferred from another school and hired by the school committee. He also said the school branch was already in existence.
He said: “The previous committee had asked to cancel the hiring of two teachers, but I turned them down. But yes, I have heard rumours of Tk17 lakh changing hands, but I have not taken any money.”
Many public and private education institutions have been getting by under the radar while not complying with any government directives. Education Ministry and the DSHE officials said they have grown exasperated of the rampant malpractice but remain powerless to do anything without enough supporting evidence.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune