The High Court has declared that collecting session fees from English medium school students will now be considered illegal.
A HC bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md. Badruzzaman made the pronouncement on Thursday while delivering the verdict of two writ petitions which were filed in 2012 and 2014 regarding session fees and VAT collection.
The court also issued a list of directions for English medium school authorities across the country.
The Ministry of Education has been tasked with publishing a circular within one month in order to notify the school authorities of the HC directives, which will need to be implemented within three months.
Aneek R Haque, the petitioners’ lawyer, said the Education Ministry had been ordered to file a compliance report before the court after six months to inform it whether the English medium schools were following the directives.According to the directives, each English medium school will need to form a managing committee under the Registration of Private Schools Ordinance 1962 and the private school registration rule 2007, comprising guardians or their representatives, teachers and the school authorities.
The committee will have the authority to appoint qualified teachers and staff after properly advertising the openings. This will ensure that no “backdoor” appointments are made by the school owners.
It will also set the teacher and staff salaries and other benefits and determine the admission and tuition fees without interference from the owners.
The court further mandated that independent audits need to be done of each school’s expenditures and the reports must be made available on the schools’ websites.
Each subject will also need to be taught by specialised teachers who will need to be trained in teaching techniques by the school authorities.
The HC also emphasised the need for English medium schools to focus on teaching Bangla language, especially till the eighth grade, so that all students are comfortably able to comprehend, read and write in Bangla.
English medium schools are also required to include lessons on Bangla culture, heritage, the Liberation War, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and freedom fighters in their curriculum, thereby focusing the students’ academics more on local history than the history of other countries.
Lawyer Badruddoza Badal told the Dhaka Tribune that the court had further asked the schools to organise functions on national and heritage days in order to instruct the students about the significance of those days.