Willes Little Flower School and College, a reputed educational institution in Dhaka, arranges as many as five milad mahfils – with about 50 participants per religious gathering – every year.
However, school authorities charge Tk10 lakh from students for these events despite such low participation.
Other allegations against the institution include taking large sums of money from students every year, under the pretext of many other expenses.
In 2017, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) found the institution guilty of taking excessive fees from students, which is actually a fairly common phenomenon in most non-government schools and colleges across Bangladesh.
Md Abul Hossain, acting principal of Willes Little Flower School and College, denied the allegations against the school and said they take fees as per the requirements. Asked how they spent the Tk10 lakh on the milad mahfils, he declined to comment.
“This is not my own decision. I am complying with the directives from the board of the college,” Abul said.
Head teachers, management committee members and other influential teachers, at different educational institutions, are also reportedly involved in financial misconduct.
Monjuara Parvin, principal of Collectorate School and College in Rangpur, joined the institution in 2012 by allegedly cutting an underhand deal with the organization’s managing committee. Six out of 11 lecturers in the institution were also apparently recruited in the same way.
The Directorate of Inspection and Audit (DIA) of the education ministry has also found financial irregularities in the institution.
However, many other educational institutions may be getting off scot-free, since DIA cannot inspect over 1,500 educational institutions per year, owing to a manpower shortage
Speaking to The Business Standard, DIA Joint Director Bipul Chandra Sarker, said: “A monitoring team can inspect an institution only once in every five years. Hence, most of the time, academic and financial management of educational institutions remain out of the government’s focus,” he said.
There are about 40,000 non-government and private secondary level educational institutions across the country.
About 200 out of the 600 teachers at Motijheel Ideal School and College are involved in the coaching business. It is alleged that they are giving little time in classes, and instead, ask students to join their coaching centres.
In 2017, Shahan Ara Begum, principal of Motijheel Ideal School and College, submitted a list of 128 corrupt teachers to the ACC for investigation. But its report is yet to be published.
Interestingly, Shahan Ara Begum herself was also accused for admitting 517 students illegally in 2007 and 100 more in 2018. However, no action has been taken against her yet.
The education ministry also found financial irregularities in appointing the principal of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College (VNSC).
The ministry cancelled the appointment of the new principal as it found involvement of five members of the managing committee in the appointment process, who had allegedly received around Tk50 lakh bribe in exchange for the post.
But the education ministry has not acted against the culprits yet.
Dr Md Tajul Islam, representative of former guardians of VNSC said since the ministry itself had found the irregularities, it should have taken action against the people involved.
However, Nazmul Haque Khan, chairman of the ad hoc committee of Viquarunnisa Noon School and College and additional secretary to the education ministry, said the ministry has no authority to take action against managing committee members.
“We did not get any directives regarding taking action against any teacher in the institution,” he said, adding: “Actually, the ministry can dissolve any managing committee for financial and other irregularities, but it cannot take legal action.”
Education ministry sources said allegations ran rife against managing committees across the country for appointing teachers in exchange for bribes and under political consideration. As a result, qualified candidates were deprived of these jobs.
Previously in 2015, the ministry authorized the Non-Government Teachers’ Registration and Certification Authority (NTRCA) to appoint teachers. But head teachers, influential teachers and managing committees are now bagging big amounts of money from students in an illegal way, the education ministry claimed.
In 2017, the ACC had sent a list of 111 highly corrupt educational institutions to the Ministry of Education to take stern action against them.
The ACC also sent a letter to the ministry, mentioning 15 reputed institutions for charging extra and excessive fees from students.
Viquarunnisa Noon School and College, Willes Little Flower School and College, Motijheel Ideal School and College were among the institutions.
After getting warnings from the ministry, the institutions returned the extra money to students.
Ministry sources said about 100 allegations against principals and managing committees are now under investigation.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury said that his ministry will not tolerate any unethical activities at educational institutions.
“Some dishonest heads of schools and colleges and managing committees are involved with immoral activities. We are ready to take stern action against those institutions,” he said.
Md Sohrab Hossain, senior secretary of Secondary and Higher Education to the education ministry, said it is prohibited to take extra fees from students. “We are also trying to stop financial irregularities in educational institutions,” he added.
The senior secretary said they had taken actions against those institutions and some of them returned their extra fees to students and pledged not to commit such acts ever again.