The government began disbursing stipends and allowances for educational accessories among primary school students through Nagad – the digital financial service of the postal department of Bangladesh – on Monday.
In the first phase of the disbursement, stipends and allowances for the educational accessories were sent to the Nagad wallets of the parents of 86,452 students in 655 schools under six districts, read a press release.
The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) will provide the stipend and the allowances through Nagad to 1.40 crore students this year, the largest-ever digital stipend fund distribution in the world of this kind.
Post and Telecommunication Minister Mustafa Jabbar, and State Minister for Primary and Mass Education Md Zakir Hossain inaugurated the fund distribution programme at the secretariat.
Golam Md Hashibul Alam, secretary, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education; Md Afzal Hossain, secretary, Posts and Telecommunications Division; Alamgir Muhammad Mansurul Alam, director-general of the DPE; Md Siraz Uddin, director-general of the postal directorate; and Tanvir A Mishuk, managing director of Nagad, were present on the occasion, among others.
The disbursement of the stipends and allowances for educational materials was halted, for almost a year, because of inertia and a lack of transparency in the prior distribution system. Later, following the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the DPE signed an agreement with Nagad on 13 December, 2020.
The government's expenses to distribute the funds will reduce by less than a third because of the partnership with Nagad, the press release noted.
As per the agreement, students are registered on the digital platform using information from their birth certificate and mobile phone number as well as the NID number of their guardian. As a result, the funds are instantly transferred to the Nagad account of the student's guardian as soon as it is sent. Beneficiaries also receive the cash-out charge along with the stipend and allowances, so they are not charged for it.
As per the contract, once a student's name is added to Nagad's database, the government and student will be able to use the information until his or her graduation. In order to ensure transparency and accountability of the process and increase the efficiency of public money, only first-grade students will be added to the database at the beginning of each year.
During the inauguration ceremony of the disbursement, Mustafa Jabbar, said, "This is a historic moment. The project of distributing allowances and stipends to students through Nagad will be considered a milestone in Bangladesh's digitalisation journey."
Md Zakir Hossen said, "Because of the stipends and allowances the rate of dropouts in schools has decreased by 18%."
"There were incidents of fraud in the earlier disbursement process of the stipends and allowances using a different operator. That is why we have chosen Nagad, which is owned by the government. Also, it will save huge amounts of public money," he added.