Thursday, 20 January, 2022

Stipend for poor students stuck for two years

Stipend for poor students stuck for two years

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Students of primary schools have not been getting stipend and allowances for accessories, including clothes, shoes and bags, for the last two years, affecting the study of the poor and meritorious students.

Sources said over Tk 817 crore of stipend and kit allowances of the students have not been distributed among the students in the last two financial years--2019-2020 and 2020-2021.

The allowances could not be distributed due to the negligence of the top officials of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE).

The distribution of stipend and allowances for accessories of the primary school students could not be possible as the agreement with the postal department’s digital financial service Nagad is not extended.

It is learned that the money had also been sent to Bangladesh Bank within the period of the agreement with Nagad in June for distribution through mobile banking. But the disbursement of the money was stuck due to a letter of the authorities.

Within the time of the agreement, the postal department wrote letters several times to the authorities concerned asking them to address the issue but they did not take any initiative.

It was later informed at the inter-ministerial meeting held on August 16 that the agreement between Nagad and the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education had not been extended. If the term of the contract is extended, the undistributed money will be distributed.

According to the sources, Tk 864.20 crore has not been disbursed to the beneficiaries of stipend and kits allowances for the financial years 2019-20and 2020-21 due to the expiry of the agreement. The contract period ended on June 30.

To extend the term of the agreement with Nagad, the draft agreement was sent to the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education on October 13 for approval. But there is no visible initiative till now.

The inter-ministerial meeting sources said all the funds have not been disbursed till June 30, but the process is underway to extend the contract till December 31 without any additional financial involvement to complete the work.

After receiving the approval of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, the remaining work will be done through renewing the contract with Nagad.  But the Ministry has not taken any action in the last five months.

When asked, DPE Director General (DG) Alamgir Muhammad Mansurul Alam said, “Students have been paid the allowances and stipend during the contract period. But it could not be given due to end of the agreement period. If the contract is extended, the money will be distributed among the poor students.”

The government provides stipends to students to improve the quality of primary education by increasing the enrolment rate and regulating attendance in government primary schools.

The provision of stipends has resulted in an increase in admissions as well as a significant reduction in the dropout rate of students from formal education.

Four times a year, every three months, the stipend money is deposited in mother’s mobile phone through mobile banking. The assistance is being given from the Prime Minister’s Education Assistance Trust.

There is a directive of the Prime Minister that scholarships should be given to students on priority basis. But the poor students are not getting the stipend amid the coronavirus pandemic only for the expiry of the agreement with Nagad.