Md Shafiuddin, a van puller, took his son to Haturia High School at Goshairhat upazila in Shariatpur, on the first day of the year, to get new textbooks.
However, he and his son returned home empty-handed, as the school had charged Tk700 to provide the new books – which were supposed to have been distributed for free.
Shafiuddin said, "Students of other schools got new books free of cost. Why did this school headmaster ask for money?"
Not only Shafiuddin's son, but 544 students did not get new textbooks that day – as they could not pay for them.
Some guardians protested but, in the end, they were compelled to give the amount to the school authorities.
Denying the allegation, the Headmaster of Haturia High School Nur Mohammad Ratan said, "I did not take money from the students for new books. I took Tk700 from each student as an admission fee and session charge."
Haturia High School is not an isolated example. A good number of schools with unscrupulous teachers and managing committee members have forced students to pay money for new textbooks although school textbooks have been provided free of cost by the education ministry for the last 10 years.
On Thursday, the Secondary and Higher Education Division of the education ministry asked the Mymensingh Education Board to take action against five schools in Jamalpur which charged money to distribute textbooks. The ministry also wanted a report on action taken in this regard within seven working days.
The schools accused of charging money, illegally, in Jamalpur are: Palisha High School, Patadah High School, Shyamnagar High School, Fuljora Rahim Afroz High School, and Bangladesh High School.
The ministry said, by taking money from students on the day of the Jatiya Textbook Festival, these schools violated the ministry's rules.
Md Abdullah Al Hasan Chowdhury, additional secretary (Secondary and Higher Education Division) of the Education Ministry, told The Business Standard, "The government provides the textbooks free of cost. If any school takes money from students – for new books – it will be punished."