27,000 Teachers Await Pension Funds Amid Financial Crisis

27,000 Teachers Await Pension Funds Amid Financial Crisis

Nazrul Islam, an assistant teacher at Khanpur Dakhil Madrasa in Baghapara Upazila, Jessore, retired on June 21, 2020, after 35 years of service. Despite receiving 280,000 BDT from the welfare fund, he has yet to receive any pension. Tragically, his wife recently passed away due to a lack of funds for medical treatment.

Similarly, Naeem Uddin Ahmed, the head teacher of Shakpur High School in Barura, Comilla, retired in 2021 and is battling cancer. He has exhausted his savings and assets for treatment but has not received any pension funds in over two years.

These cases reflect a widespread issue affecting over 27,000 retired teachers across the country, many of whom are suffering from severe health issues or have passed away without receiving their pensions. Their primary request is for post-retirement benefits and timely pension payments.

Bangladesh has approximately 30,000 MPO-affiliated educational institutions, employing around 550,000 teachers and staff. Upon retirement, these teachers are entitled to financial benefits from the retirement board and welfare trust, as per government regulations. However, due to fund shortages, insufficient staffing, and the lack of a dedicated office, the institution is unable to provide timely services to retirees. Despite its challenges, the institution has disbursed about 3,500 crore BDT to 150,000 teachers since its inception.

The Private Educational Institutions Teacher-Employee Welfare Trust reports that they currently have applications from around 27,000 teachers seeking welfare benefits, but lack the necessary funds. The organization needs over 60 staff members to provide timely services, but currently operates with just 17 employees. Established in 1990, the trust still lacks its own building or office infrastructure.

The trust’s financial challenges stem from changes in teacher salary scales. According to the trust’s regulations, welfare benefits must be provided based on the last salary scale of MPO-affiliated teachers. Significant salary increases in 2009 and 2015 have exacerbated the trust’s financial crisis. Additionally, the trust’s activities were suspended from 1991 to 1996, resulting in a 200 crore BDT shortfall in the fund.

Each month, the trust receives approximately 52-53 crore BDT from teacher contributions, against a financial requirement of 60-64 crore BDT, leading to an annual deficit of around 120 crore BDT. The trust has previously received special allocations from the government, totaling 360 crore BDT between 2016 and 2019.

Despite these challenges, the trust is seeking ways to improve its financial stability and enhance its capabilities. This includes securing a dedicated office, increasing staff, launching online services, and establishing a help desk. The trust is also requesting a one-time financial fund of 2,400 crore BDT from the government to address the current backlog of applications.

Md. Shahjahan Alam Saju, the trust’s secretary, stated, “We have appealed to the government for the necessary funds. Additionally, we have long requested an increase in staffing and infrastructural improvements. The current government has been supportive of teachers, and we hope this crisis will be resolved soon.”

From 1990 to 2008, the trust provided 279 crore BDT in welfare benefits. From 2009 to March 2022, the trust disbursed 3,288 crore BDT to 133,374 teachers and staff.

The ongoing financial crisis and delay in pension payments highlight the urgent need for systemic reforms and government intervention to ensure that retired teachers receive their due benefits promptly.

AK Kabir

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