Many kindergartens across the country have been permanently closed due to financial crisis amid the covid-19 pandemic.
Most of the guardians of the students of these institutions are not paying tuition fees, placing the cause of ongoing closure.
As a result, owners of these schools are compelled to shut the institutions while teachers and other staffs are passing inhuman life as they are not getting salary for several months.
Ideal public school in capital’s Matikata area was closed last August due to debt and inability to pay the house rent.
Due to repeated request from guardians, the school authorities reopened the school a few days ago on small scale by renting a single flat in another building named ‘South Villa’ next to the previous building.
The founder of the school, Nargis Akhtar said, “The school could not earn any money since March. However, the expenses for house rent and staff salaries and allowances were continuously increasing. So we had to close it in August. We also tried to sell the institution in September and October, but, did not find any buyer.”
The condition of other kindergartens is almost same.
Contacted, Takbir Ahmed, founder and chairman of Fulkuri Kindergarten & High School told Bangladesh Post, “I established this school in 2004. I have invested all of my resources in this school. I have no source of income without this school. I could not pay the salaries of teachers and staff as I am not getting tuition fees from the students since the last four months. What will I do if I don't sell the school?”
He said, “At least 250 students have studied in the school. There are 12 teachers and two employees. The rent of the building is Tk 46,000. The salary of teachers and employees is more than Tk 50,000. There are other costs as well.”
“The children of low-income people including garment workers, CNG drivers, and tannery workers study in this school. They are not willing to pay tuition fees in any way,” he added.
Iqbal Bahar Chowdhury, Chairman of Bangladesh Kindergarten School & College Oikkya Parishad, told The Bangladesh Post that “More than one crore students are studying in 60,000 kindergarten schools across the country. Of those, 99 percent schools have been run in rented houses. About 10 lakh teaches are engaged in teaching in kindergartens. Guardians are not paying tuition fees. How owners will run their schools and teachers will get salaries?”
He said, “At least 1,500 kindergarten schools have already been closed permanently. More 20,000 schools will be closed if the situation continues.”
He also said, “School authorities spend about 40 percent of the monthly tuition fees paid by the students for house rent, 40 percent for salaries of teachers and other staffs and the remaining 20 percent for gas bills, commercial electricity bills, water bills and other expenses. As the school is closed, no tuition fee has been collected since March. So, it is not possible to pay all kinds of bills, house rent, salary and allowance. The house owners are repeatedly asking for rent. Teachers, officials and poor employees are living a miserable life due to financial crisis.”
Muhammad Saiful Islam, a teacher of Agrani Model School at Gazipur told The Bangladesh Post that “I’m passing a miserable life as I have been not getting salary for eight months. I have already borrowed a lot of money from my relatives to bear the expenses of my basic needs.”
“Now, there is no hope to get another job during this pandemic situation,” he added.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics, there are 1,29, 258 primary educational institutions in the country, including government, kindergarten and NGO-run schools. Of those, 65,620 are government primary schools and rest are private.