Delay in Bonus Leaves Half a Million Teachers and Staff Without Eid Joy

Delay in Bonus Leaves Half a Million Teachers and Staff Without Eid Joy

Hanif (pseudonym), an assistant teacher at Faizul Haque High School in Bogura, faces a tough situation. With a monthly salary of just 12,750 BDT, managing rent and grocery expenses is challenging enough, let alone affording a sacrificial animal for Eid. He feels the sting of disappointment for not being able to buy his child new clothes for the festival. Like him, approximately half a million MPO-listed teachers and staff across Bangladesh were unable to withdraw their Eid bonuses, casting a shadow over their celebrations.

While government and semi-government employees received their bonuses on time, most teachers and staff in private educational institutions faced a different reality, having to celebrate Eid without their bonus.

The teachers attribute this predicament to the delayed release of the bonus checks. They report that the checks were cleared only two days before the Eid holiday began, with the funds transferred to banks on Thursday, June 13th. Teachers received the notification via SMS in the late afternoon, leaving insufficient time for many to withdraw the money.

Abdullah Noyon, a teacher, expressed his frustration, stating, “I received the SMS at 3:17 PM. There are no banking facilities in my area, and there wasn’t enough time to travel to the district town to withdraw the money. We have to celebrate Eid without the bonus, which feels like a gross negligence towards teachers.”

Historically, private teachers and staff did not receive festival allowances from the government. This changed in July 2003, when then-Education Minister Dr. Osman Faruq announced that MPO-listed teachers and staff would receive bonuses. The decision, implemented in October that year, stipulated that teachers would receive 50% of their basic salary as a bonus, divided into 25% for each of the two Eids or festivals. However, even with this provision, teachers often received the bonus only after the festival had passed.

Until 1996, the government covered 80% of MPO-listed teachers’ basic salaries. This increased to 90% under the Awami League government in 1996. Although the four-party coalition government announced a 100% salary coverage in 2005, the budget implemented 95%, which the caretaker government later increased to 100%.

Despite receiving full salaries from the government, the bonus remains distributed under the old system. For Eid-ul-Fitr, MPO-listed teachers received a 25% festival allowance. However, for Eid-ul-Adha, the delayed clearance of bonus checks meant most teachers and staff couldn’t access their money in time for the celebrations.

Teacher leader Md. Sarwar, president of the Index Teachers’ Transfer-General Notification Aspirants Unity Council, has long campaigned for various rights for private teachers. He pointed out that MPO-listed teachers receive a paltry 25% of their basic salary as a bonus, translating to just over 3,000 BDT for an assistant teacher. “How can one celebrate Eid with such a meager amount? And if the bonus is delayed beyond the festival, where do teachers stand?” he questioned.

He further highlighted the plight of private MPO-listed teachers, who often work far from home for a salary of 12,500 BDT, sometimes having to depend on others for financial support. “There’s no provision for transfer, and many other issues persist. This delay in the bonus has only added to their woes. Giving a nominal bonus and then not ensuring its timely disbursement is unacceptable. We demand an end to such neglect.”

Syed Jafar, Director (Secondary) of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, acknowledged the issue, describing the situation where teachers did not receive their bonuses before Eid as inhumane. He emphasized the need to investigate why the funds were not accessible in time.

This year, over 30,000 MPO-listed private school, college, and madrasa teachers and staff are slated to receive 2.4 billion BDT in festival allowances. Along with their May salaries totaling 7.83 billion BDT, the bonus is crucial. While teachers could withdraw their salaries, the bonus money will only be available after Eid.

For context, the bonus for teachers based on 25% of their basic salary ranges from 3,125 BDT for assistant teachers without a B.Ed. degree to 12,500 BDT for principals of colleges with a salary scale of 50,000 BDT.

The persistent delays and the resulting financial strain have undoubtedly marred the festive spirit for many educators, highlighting a need for more efficient processes and greater respect for those shaping the nation’s future.

JR Nayan

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