Primary students’ stipends increased finally, after 18yrs
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has approved the disbursement and increment of stipends, and extension of Primary Education Stipend Project (PESP), paving the way for financially assisting 1.37 crore elementary students, which was halted for over six months.
After PM's approval, from now on, the amount of stipend will increase by 50 per cent, and each primary student will receive a yearly amount of Tk 1,000 for buying school supplies like uniforms and bags, said PESP officials.
The government increased the stipend after 18 years, despite the erosion of real value over the period. The amount was fixed in 2002 and has not been revised since then, officials added.
"The PM approved extension of our project for 18 months and increased the stipend amount on Monday," Yusuf Ali, project director of PESP's third phase, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Officials had requested for extension of the project in December last year, but due to the pandemic, decisions were kept pending and so did disbursement of stipends.
He said authorities will disburse pending instalment of October last year within a week, according to the old stipend amount. They will disburse instalments of January and April, according to the increased amount, before Eid-ul-Fitr.
The government sends the money directly to students' mothers through mobile banking services four times a year -- in April, July, October and January.
To qualify for the stipend, selected students must have 85 per cent monthly attendance. They also need to take all school examinations and attain a minimum of 33 per cent marks for each subject.
According to the old stipend amount, each student fulfilling these criteria got Tk 100 per month, as a single beneficiary of a family. Similarly, two children from the same family received Tk 200 per month, whereas in case of three and four children, the stipend was Tk 250 and Tk 300 per month, respectively.
Now, each will receive Tk 150. Two children from the same family will get Tk 300, and three and four children will receive Tk 400 and Tk 500, respectively.
The government will require around Tk 1,800 crore to disburse the new increased stipends and another Tk 1,000 crore for providing money for school supplies for this year and 2021.
Officials said the project aimed at increasing enrolment and attendance rates and reduce dropout rate among primary students.
PESP was initiated in 2002. Initially, the project covered 40 per cent of total primary students and was subsequently raised to 70 per cent in 2008. Later in 2016, it was universalised, covering all students.
Md Shamsuddin Masud -- member secretary of Bangladesh Prathamik Shikkhok Oikya Parishad, an alliance of 14 organisations of primary school teachers -- said it is good news for all primary students, especially for those coming from poor families of rural areas.
"Each student will roughly get at least Tk 2,200 if all instalments are cleared. Amid the coronavirus crisis, this will be a great help," he said.
"Students will be overjoyed to get their uniforms and school bags, as many cannot afford them on their own," he added.