Corona cuts cost, not tuition fees

Dhaka educational institutions now operate online but charge same as they did before pandemic

The coronaviurs pandemic has cut down the operating cost of the educational institutions, which are now offering classes online, but they are still charging the students the same as they did before the crisis.

Guardians of the students studying in private schools and colleges in the capital are demanding adjustment of the tuition fees to the decline in the operating cost, but the institutions are ignoring the demand.

The guardians argue that the cost of the educational institutions has dropped due to the pandemic on one hand while their earnings have been badly affected on the other.

According to different platforms of the guardians, many of them have fallen into deep crisis during the Covid-19 pandemic as they have faced pay cut, retrenchment or loss in business.

The guardians say the educational institutions need not to pay for utility services since the suspension of on-campus class in March this year. 

So the institutions charging the students full tuition fees is irrational and inhumane, they argue.

 “The college authorities took Tk 27,000 as session fee for the 12th grade admission and they are also charging Tk 4,000 per month as tuition fees. No student is availing the laboratory facilities during the pandemic; still they are collection lab fee,” said Ripa Islam, a parent of a student of Rajuk Uttara Model College.

“We requested them (authorities) to give the students auto promotion and reduce tuition fees. But they did not pay any heed to our request. They are charging their regular fees,” she added.  

The guardian of a student of Cambrian School and College, requesting anonymity, told Bangladesh Post that he was paying Tk 10,000 as monthly tuition fees for his ward and is being compelled to pay the same among during the pandemic.

“The pandemic has cut the cost of school operation, but the cut is not reflected in the tuition fees. The government authorities should look into the matter,” he said.

Principal of Cambrian School and College (Uttara Branch) Nishat Parveen Huq said they fixed the tuition fees during admission, considering students’ overall academic background and financial condition.

She claimed that they provide huge amount of tuition fee waiver to students during admission but admitted that they have not adjusted the tuition fees to the corona-resultant cut in expenses.

Abdul Halim, a guardian of a Motijheel Ideal School and College student, said he was doing a small business in the capital’s Arambagh area but now he is unable to run it amid the coronavirus crisis.

“I spent all my savings to pay house rent and children's tuition fees, and meet daily expenses. Now, I have no money. It is impossible to manage money in this situation. But the school teachers are pressuring us to pay tuition fees. I am very worried about it,” he added.

Another guardian said, “We’re not allowed to appeal for a reduction in tuition fees at Motijheel Ideal School and College. Even the class teachers always make calls to guardians to pay tuition fees.”

Shahan Ara Begum, Principal of Motijheel Ideal School and College, however, denied pressuring anyone for tuition fees.

 “We don’t put any pressure on guardians for tuition fees. We’re paying our teachers’ salaries regularly despite the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

The principal said her institution has no other source of income except tuition fees and asked how they will run it, if the guardians do not pay.

Ziaul Kabir Dulu, President of Bangladesh Guardians’ Forum, told Bangladesh Post, “Most of the middle and lower middle-income families are struggling to survive. Many people lost their jobs while many are incurring losses in their businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many schools are putting pressure on guardians to pay full tuition fees.” 

Referring to the advice of the education ministry to the educational institutions to be humane in charging tuition fees, he said the schools and colleges did not pay any heed to it.

Secondary and Higher Education Division Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain recently told reporters that the ministry had a plan to issue a circular in this regard. 

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Private Medical and Dental Students’ Association and Private University Students’ Alliance appealed to the authorities concerned to reduce tuition fees during the Covid-19 crisis.

Around two months have passed since the appeal was made, but students and guardians have not got a response from the authorities yet.