The government is likely to bring more private educational institutions under the Monthly Pay Order scheme.
The education ministry has already sent a draft of the revised MPO policy to the finance ministry which is now reviewing it, said sources in the two ministries.
Though the revised policy is focused on giving the MPO facilities to more teachers from institutions already on the MPO list, it will open up scope for bringing new institutions under the MPO scheme once the finance ministry approves it, they said.
The education ministry has also provided the finance ministry with a list of 1.7 lakh teachers of MPO-listed institutions for providing them with the facilities, added the sources.
Talking to this newspaper, Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary in the secondary and higher education division of the education ministry, said they would start the process of including new institutions in the MPO upon approval of the policy.
He, however, said it is not possible to bring a large number of institutions under the scheme at one go, as it involves a huge amount of money.
It would take more than TK 2,400 crore a year to include around 5,000 institutions in the MPO. “The number [of institutions to be included] will depend on budget allocations,” Jabed added.
The government now spends more than Tk 7,000 crore a year for MPO-listed institutions. More than four lakh teachers and employees of 26,340 secondary schools, colleges, madrasas and technical institutes get the MPO facilities.
According to the existing policy, in a rural area, no institution will be included in the MPO if it is situated within three to six kilometres of another MPO-listed institution.
However, new institutions may get the facilities under special consideration.
If the education minister wants, any of the provisions can be relaxed, says the policy.
In 2010, the provision regarding geographic boundary was relaxed, and more than three institutions were included from every constituency under special consideration.
This time, two to three institutions from each constituency may be brought under the MPO scheme, said education ministry sources.
Meanwhile, the agitating teachers of non-MPO educational institutions, who had gone on a hunger strike in front of the Jatiya Press Club five days ago, called off the strike yesterday on assurance from the prime minister.
AGITATION PROMPTED QUICK ACTION
The MPO is the government's share in the payroll of non-government educational institutions. Under the scheme, the government gives 100 percent basic salaries to the teachers of non-government schools. The teachers also get a small amount a month as allowances through the MPO.
As per the rules, an educational institution first comes under the MPO scheme and then the government includes the teachers of the institution in the payroll.
After a suspension by the then BNP-led alliance government for around six years, the MPO facility was revived by the Awami League-led government in 2010 as it was one of the electoral pledges of the AL. A total of 1,624 secondary and higher secondary private schools and colleges were also included in the MPO.
According to leaders of Non-MPO Shikhya Pratishthan Shikhyak Karmachari Federation, there are 5,242 non-MPO educational institutions, where around 80,000 teachers are working without any pay, some for more than a decade.
After staging a sit-in for five consecutive days in front of the Jatiya Press Club, the agitating teachers and employees of government-recognised educational institutions started the hunger strike on December 31.
Following a meeting with the finance minister on Tuesday, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid assured the teachers of looking into the matter.
But the teachers rejected his assurance and vowed to continue their programme until the government gives a specific timeframe for meeting their demand. They finally withdrew the strike yesterday upon the PM's assurance.
Education ministry officials said they sent the draft of the revised policy to the finance ministry on the basis of the discussions between the two ministers.
They also pointed out that the draft didn't suggest any major changes in the existing MPO policy except for the inclusion of a new provision over recruitment of teachers in MPO-listed non-government educational institutions.
According to the new provision, the applicants have to pass a test by the Non-government Teachers' Registration and Certification Authority (NTRCA), and then they will be recruited on the basis of merit list.
The governing bodies of the educational institutions will not be able to make any appointments, it said.
DEMAND FROM MPS
Before the announcement of budget every year, a significant number of lawmakers raise demands in parliament for including more institutions in the MPO and increasing allocations for the purpose.
The finance minister, however, remains very strict about it, and stresses the need for bringing reforms to the MPO-listed institutions as well as the policy before including those in the MPO.
On several occasions, he said every MPO-listed institution has to conduct thorough audits as the government gives 100 percent basic salary to its employees, and a portion of its income has to be deposited with the state exchequer.