January comes as a month of crisis for Fazlul Haq. The father of two is a public servant and earns a monthly salary of Tk65,000. He had to spend over 60% of his total monthly income only to get his children admitted into the school’s new academic year. He also spent a great deal of money on private tutors and coaching.
His elder son Ryhan Haq got admission into eighth grade in Dhaka Residential Model College and the younger one Symun Haq got admitted to grade five at Junior Laboratory School.
“For my elder son, I have spent Tk25,000 as admission fee and Tk5000 for school uniforms, books and other costs. For the younger one, it was Tk11,900. This puts tremendous financial pressure on us,” said Fazlul.
Aside from the yearly admission fee, the monthly tuition fee for his elder son is Tk1000 and for the younger one it is Tk2000. However, the cost of coaching and private tuition is incredibly high compared to monthly school fees. In addition to school, his elder son has been admitted to a coaching run by a school teacher for Tk3500, while the younger one has been admitted to two coaching centers. “The monthly coaching fee for my elder son is Tk4500. The younger son is attending a coaching for model test and a coaching on all subjects; altogether that costs Tk7000 per month,” Fazlul informs.
This means the monthly cost of coaching fees for his children is four times higher than the money spent for school tuition fees.
The situation is quite similar across Bangladesh.
A government sponsored survey finds that Bangladeshi parents are spending three times more money for coaching fees or keeping house tutors compared to the money spent for tuition fees of their children.
Coaching is a Tk50,000 crore business and we should not wait for the introduction of a policy, rather we should act as soon as possible
A little over 29% of total education expenditure goes into coaching or house tutors, which is highest share among the money spent for education cost, according to Education Household Survey 2014.
According to the survey, which was released by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in September 2015, students from urban areas are spending higher for coaching and private tuition at 33% while it is 26% for rural students.
Despite the fact that Education Act 2016 proposed a ban on all coaching centres and private tuition, many students and parents alleged that a section of teachers invite students to join coaching run by them for after school. The students who refuse the offer begin to receive lower grades and unfair treatment in the classroom.
According to the government’s policy, teachers can provide services at their residence to a maximum of 10 students belonging to other institutions, but only after the school has authorized it. But the regulatory measure is widely ignored, Dhaka Tribune has found. Teachers are not performing their duties in school in order to focus on their coaching business, as it is a lucrative business model.
A science teacher of Dhaka Residential Model College takes classes of 30 students per batch and runs six batches. Each student pays Tk1,500 per month which adds up to his monthly income from coaching at Tk2.7 lakh.
BBS Director Jafor Ahmed Khan said the cost for sending children to private institutions is almost double compared to public ones.
“We have interviewed about 27000 people from seven divisions and the study reflected that the High Court’s 2012 directive to stop coaching, as well as the education ministry’s guideline on same matter remain ineffective,” he said.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) made 39 specific recommendations last month to prevent corruption in the education sector. The ACC also recommended forming education monitoring committees at the metropolitan, district and upazila levels to ensure that students are taught properly in classes. The ACC also recommended taking departmental actions against teachers who take coaching classes ignoring the government guideline.
Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam said coaching has created the demand and supply from the industry. “Teachers’ salaries do not reflect their efforts, causing many of them to get involved in unauthorized practices,” he said.
Educationist Prof Syed Anwar Hossain said the government should completely ban coaching centres and may introduce separate extra care classes for weak students. “Since coaching has become a business, additional financial pressure is being imposed on the parents. Not only this, the question papers are leaked through the coaching centres”, he said. He also expressed his disappointment regarding the government’s inability to stop the coaching business in the past nine years.
“The coaching business is a Tk50,000 crore business and we should not wait for the introduction of a policy, rather we should act as soon as possible,” said the professor.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said students are going to teachers’ homes or coaching centres because they are being forced to do so, with teaching in classrooms increasingly becoming unproductive and uninteresting.
“Teachers will not be allowed to offer private coaching. Laws to end such practices are on the cards, and nobody involved in this ‘business’ will be spared. This law is waiting Parliament’s approval for its implementation,” he said.