Fin min says ‘no’ to blanket nationalisation

The finance ministry has turned down an education ministry proposal for wholesale nationalisation of post-primary educational institutions, suggesting that hard-to-reach and backward areas should be given priority for such development programme However, priority could be given to any particular institutions for nationalisation if there is an assurance from the head of the government to do so, according to a November 3 letter of the finance ministry. The letter also asked the education ministry to incorporate the suggestions in the final policy of the nationalisation of post-primary to master’s level educational institutions as proposed by the education ministry. The ministry also suggested setting up of a permanent inspection committee comprising officials of the ministries of finance, public administration and education, which would prepare a priority list of the institutions for nationalisation on the basis of spot visits. According to the list, the institutions would be naitionalised in three to five years. The finance ministry suggestions came after the education ministry in April finalised a draft of the `policy for nationalisation of non-government educational institutions’ and send it to the finance ministry. The policy included only the non-government educational institutions offering education from Class VI to master’s degree. The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on January 9, 2013 announced the nationalisation of all 26,192 non-government primary schools employing 104,000 teachers, in the face of a movement by non-government schoolteachers. Leaders of the teachers’ associations of post-primary schools, madrassahs and colleges took to the streets immediately after the prime minister’s announcement to push for nationalisation of their jobs. The November 3 finance ministry letter, a copy of which has been obtained by New Age, reads, `For nationalisation, priority should be given to the areas which are backward, hard to reach, poverty-ridden and have lower literacy rates.’ They also suggested that restrictions should be imposed on introduction of four-year bachelor’s and master’s courses after nationalisation of the institutions. The finance ministry also suggested that priority should be given to the technical and vocational institutions. Education secretary Md Nazrul Islam Khan told New Age on Monday that they had received the letter from the finance ministry on Sunday and would hold a meeting with officials before working out the strategies to go ahead with the nationalisation policy. He said that nationalisation has a huge financial involvement and if the institutions were to be nationalised, it would be tough to retain teachers and employees having no required educational qualifications in the institutions. The government will also face fund constraints for the implementation of the Education Policy 2010 if a blanket nationalisation of educational institutions takes place, he said, adding, `The leaders of teachers’ organisations, however, demanded a wholesale nationalisation.’ Principal Mohammad Mazharul Hannan, president of Non-government College Principals’ Association, told New Age that nationalisation policy should be need-bases as the process would require huge financial involvement. He opposed the idea of wholesale nationalisation. In Bangladesh, most educational institutions are set up on private initiatives and the government starts paying salary to teachers and employees from the state exchequer in the form of the monthly pay order, if any institutions apply for it after meeting certain conditions. There are about five lakh teachers and employees in about 28,000 secondary schools, madrassahs and colleges enjoying the monthly pay order. The government is now spending more than Tk 6,000 crore a year on the payment. Besides, there are more than one lakh teachers and employees in nearly 8,000 educational institutions who do not get any financial support from the government.

Source: Newage

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