Rising direct education costs leave parents powerless

Habibullah, a private service holder residing in Mirpur region, was spending Tk 10,000 per month on the education of his two sons before Covid-19. In the post-pandemic period, Habibullah has to spend almost double what he used to spend.

The increase in personal expenses is exacerbated by the fact that Habibullah’s salary has not increased since March 2020. In fact, he has earned less during the pandemic due to deductions from his salary.

“One of my sons is in Class IX and the other is in Class IV. I hired a home tutor for Tk3000 each in 2020. Now I have to pay Tk5000 each for school fees. Even, the rickshaw fare and other expenses like tiffin have gone up,” Habibullah said.

“I get Tk 30,000 per month. Now I have to spend about Tk 16,000 per month on my children’s education. It will be difficult to continue like this because my salary does not even cover my expenses,” he said. he declares.

That’s the reality for a number of tutors across the country: less income, more expenses.

According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2021/2, average spending on education has increased by 80% in real terms.

About 7% of families in Bangladesh have to borrow to send their children to school, the report adds.

Ziaul Kabir Dulu, chairman of the Bangladesh Guardians’ Forum, told The Business Standard that education expenses have increased dramatically and guardians have been forced to reduce their daily needs to bear the additional costs.

“Guidebooks, school copies and stationery prices have gone up. Even rickshaw pullers are charging almost double the rate compared to pre-pandemic times. Home tutors have also become more expensive. most tutor income has not increased, while for many it has actually fallen,” he said.

Rumen Mridha, a businessman from the Eskaton Garden area, told TBS that his income had declined since the pandemic, falling to Tk 30,000 from around Tk 30,000. At the same time, the expenses of raising her two children almost doubled.

“The pandemic has affected my income. On the other hand, the prices of basic necessities have also increased. Now it is difficult for me to meet daily needs and education expenses. So I am thinking of leaving my company, move to another job or leave the country,” he said.

In these circumstances, many are asking for reimbursable costs to be reduced in different areas.

A key cost remains one-to-one tuition, apart from exorbitant tuition fees.

Tuition fees have more than doubled due to rising essential prices, house rents and traffic jams, according to the Bangladesh Tutor Providers Association.

Md Mainul Islam, an executive member of the Bangladesh Tutor Providers’ Association and also the owner of the Tutors’ Club, told TBS that the number of aspirants wishing to become private tutors are mostly students who wish to do so to support their tuition fees.

“Most of the students could take two to three lessons a day, but now they could only do one due to severe traffic congestion in Dhaka city. So to make up for the loss of income, they have to charge more than before,” he said.

Books and copies are another area of ​​increased cost.

Shaymol Pal, vice president of Bangladesh Pushtak Prokashok Bikreta Samity, told TBS that they had been forced to raise the price of books and copies due to soaring paper prices.

“We sold per tonne of paper at 40,000 Tk. Now it’s 70,000 Tk. So we have no other way but to raise prices,” he said.

Professor Emeritus of the University of Brac, Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, told TBS that the people of this country are currently suffering from a financial crisis.

“Many guardians cannot bear the expenses of educating their children. Many guardians take out loans for this purpose. But they cannot continue for long. So the government should take an education stimulus package “, he said.

“The government should pay some of the tuition fees and other related expenses to the students. It can provide the money directly to school authorities. Otherwise, the crisis could get worse,” he said.

About 4.5 million students from pre-primary to tertiary education are enrolled in nearly 2 lakh educational institutions across the country. About 40 lakh of them are studying in tertiary institutions.

In Bangladesh, the share of urban households paying private tuition increased from 48% in 2000 to 67% in 2010, while the corresponding share of rural households doubled from 27% to 54%; for the poorest quartile, it quadrupled, from 10% to 40%.

Almost two-thirds of the total cost of education is covered by households in Bangladesh, while only one-third is covered by the government – ​​the fourth highest percentage covered by households in the world (after Haiti, Nigeria and Liberia).

Even free public education has many hidden costs. About one-third of household education spending in low- and middle-income countries comes from households whose children attend public schools.

A global comparison

UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2021/2 shows that globally, one in six families save for school fees, while 8% of families (or one in twelve) in low- and middle-income countries have to borrow money to pay for their children. go to school.

In some countries, such as Uganda, Haiti, Kenya and the Philippines, 30% of families have to borrow to pay for their children’s education.

The report calls on governments to keep their promise to provide one year of pre-school education and 12 years of primary and secondary education free for all.

New data shows that the costs of education fall disproportionately on households in the poorest countries.

In low- and lower-middle-income countries, households cover 39% of the cost of education, with the government covering the rest, compared to just 16% in high-income countries.

Recommendations

UNESCO’s biggest recommendation remains to intensify efforts to ensure free, state-funded access to one year of pre-school education and 12 years of primary and secondary education.

Governments should monitor out-of-pocket education spending with household income and expenditure surveys.

He also suggested that formal payments are often the only ones governments pay attention to. They often look away from other less well-documented costs that increase inequality, such as additional private tuition fees, he said.

The effectiveness of policies aimed at targeting resources to disadvantaged learners should be assessed and not presumed.

He also called for the government’s ability to monitor and enforce regulations to be strengthened.

Unesco further called on governments to establish a relationship of trust with non-state providers, encouraging them to register, eliminating arbitrariness in the rules and communicating the right incentives so that they effectively manage their schools for the benefit of learners.

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