Negligence to non-government teachers and employees
We see a lot of articles in newspapers about the rights of teachers. Reading most of the writings of the writers, it seems that by teachers they mean only government teachers and by non-government teachers they mean only MPO (Monthly Pay Order) affiliated teachers. In fact, government teachers are those who teach at any level from primary school to higher education and university and enjoy full government-sponsored salaries and allowances. Apart from these, those who are paid special allowances by the government under MPO are generally considered as private teachers, but they are not actually private, they are mostly government and many of these teachers are also called semi-government or MPO teachers. In no way, they are private teachers.
We hold teachers in high esteem when it comes to showing respect, but do we ever evaluate their overall condition? Can we respectfully assert their rights? How many of them are able to live economically well? Are their families running on their income at all or are they able to stand on their own two feet socially? Many of these questions have now made teachers uneasy. The real example of this is being observed in this critical period of Covid-19. As the educational institutions have been under continuous lockdown since March 16, 2020, the black darkness of frustration and anxiety has descended among the students and parents, while the dilapidated condition of life has also descended among the private teachers-staff and employees. Since the teachers, officials and employees of government, MPO or autonomous educational institutions are run under the patronage of the government, they have not been affected by the crisis, but they are living comfortably with government salaries and allowances at home. But the condition of private teachers-officers and employees is very deplorable which no one seems to see. Many have lost their jobs due to the closure of institutions for more than a year, and those who are teaching online are not getting proper pay.
However, considering the number of educational institutions and teachers-officers and employees in Bangladesh, the manpower in non-government educational institutions is much more which is about 87 per cent of the total teaching manpower. In contrast, the number of government and MPO affiliated teaching staff is very limited. According to various statistics, there are more than 55,000 private educational institutions in Bangladesh at present. There are also about 10,000 technical education institutes including polytechnic institutes, 105 private universities and thousands more medical, dental and Qawmi Madrasas. Of these educational institutions, Kindergarten schools alone have about 6 lakh teachers and staff, while technical institutions have a manpower of about 2.5 lakh. There are at least 90,000 more teachers and staff in 9,000 private non-MPO schools, colleges and madrasas. And there are about 32 thousand teachers and employees in 105 private universities. There are also more than 400 English medium educational institutions run in foreign curricula, with more than 18,000 teachers and staff. In all, there are about 1.5 million teachers, officers and employees in Bangladesh. On the other hand, if we talk about another education system of different style in the country, it is Qawmi Madrasa, where the number of teachers, officers and employees is about 24,000. Adding private medical, dental, paramedical, teacher training colleges and other educational institutions, their number will exceed 11 targets.
The contribution of teachers in non-govt institutions is much more than the contribution of govt institutions in the development of education in Bangladesh. Students and guardians have to rely more on private institutions as the number of government educational institutions is less than the number of students in the country and the quality of education they have is not so good. It is to be noted that the quality of education in many government run educational institutions controlled by efficient administrators is quite good which is very inadequate compared to the need.
In this ongoing crisis, the deplorable negligence to the teachers, officers and employees of the private educational institutions is really painful, which is having an extremely negative impact on the education system. The income and expenditure of the private sector is met from the tuition fees of the students as discussed earlier. The salaries of the teachers and staff are provided from the money collected from the students' tuition fees in these institutions. Not only that, they also pay the rent of the building of the organization, payment of different bills for various services and other expenses from this money. At this time the collection of money from the students is stopped. Concerned regulatory bodies, including the Ministry of Education, are also discouraging the collection of fees in the wake of the disaster. As a result, these 11 lakh private teachers-officers and employees are not getting their salaries and allowances due to the closure of educational institutions in Corona and non-payment of tuition fees on time as well. Their private tuition along with their salaries is closed, which is another alternative way for many of them to survive. As a result, their family is now lost and in a miserable situation.
The saddest thing is that the private sector authorities are also taking advantage of the Corona's excuse. They have stopped paying salaries and allowances to teachers and staff because they have no income or low income, some have laid off many employees, some are paying partial salaries, but not every month, even in many educational institutions where the authorities have kept the teachers or employees on the job and sent on compulsory leave without pay. What a ruthless action! Those who have worked all year dedicatedly, now their pay is off, what a cruelty! Hasn't the company made any savings with sacrifice of the labor of the teachers, officers and employees of their organization? Would there have been any major loss if they had been paid with their savings? By the salary, at least all these hard working people could put a handful of food in the mouth of their family! On the other hand, there are some institutions which have paid partial salary to the teachers for the whole year, but have completely deprived them from other allowances. Many big institutions have also done such heinous deeds.
As they are private, the government has no sympathy for them, but they have various advice to continue the education. It is only through these private teachers and officers that it has been possible to ensure education services in private educational institutions more than in government educational institutions. On the one hand, the students have to continue their studies and on the other hand, they have to ensure 100% online education for fear of losing their jobs due to the increased pressure of the institution authorities.
There is no one to see the miserable situation of the teachers, officials and employees of the private educational institutions. There is no one to create an analogy of humanity among the people in the higher echelons of government or in the authority of institutions. After the first wave of Corona the government arranged special grants for private teachers at various levels, though it was negligible. The allocation given by the government was only 46 crore 63 lakh 30 thousand taka, which could be distributed only among 80 thousand 746 teachers and 25 thousand 36 employees. Recently, an assurance is received from the upper echelons of the government to allocate the same amount again. But for millions of private teachers, it is a matter of wondering how much this money will meet expectations.
Therefore, people from all walks of life should come forward to lead a safe and beautiful life for all those who are involved in the teaching and learning profession. In such a great crisis of COVID-19, it was really desirable for the government to provide special grants. If the policy makers of the government or the organization are not sympathetic to these communities, then who is there who will look at the endless suffering and inhuman life of the teachers, officials and employees?! If the teacher is happy, the nation will be well-educated and good education is one of the key factors in building an ideal nation.
Dr Md Mahmudul Hassan is a writer, Education Researcher and Principal, Daffodil International School, Dhaka