The students of Khodayerpur Government Primary School in Pabna Sadar upazila had to pay Tk 120 each for getting government approved textbooks meant for free distribution as the school authorities collected the amount for arranging annual sports programme.
An inquiry committee headed by Assistant Thana Education Officer (ATEO) Kamruzzaman Khaza visited the school on Tuesday and asked the school authorities to return the money to the students.
The school authorities stared returning the money but only a few students got it yesterday, said students and guardians.
Visiting the school yesterday, this correspondent found many students and their parents coming to school for taking back the money paid during book distribution programme on January 1, when the 'book festival' was observed across the country.
“My two children read in the school. I have paid Tk 120 and requested the school authorities to give two sets of books for two kids. But I have got one set of book,” said Rahima Khatun, a guardian.
“Now I have come to the school for taking back the amount and also getting another set of books,” she said.
Md Apan Ali, a Class IV student of the school, said, “I paid Tk 120 for getting a set of books on January 1 as I was denied books without the money. I am yet to get back the amount.”
Talking with this correspondent, Masuma Parvin, headmaster of Khodayerpur Government Primary School, said, “I am not responsible for collecting the money. School managing committee (SMC) President Md Abdul Bari himself was present during the book distribution and he took the amount from the students for arranging sports.”
Asked about the matter, Abdul Bari said, “Every year we collect small amounts from the students during this time so that we can arrange sports and cultural programmes in the school. Otherwise it would be quite impossible for us to collect funds for such programmes.”
“As per instruction of the officer who visited the school, we have started returning the money to the students,” he said
ATEO Md Karuzzaman Khaza said, “Free textbook distribution means it is totally free. Taking any money for the purpose is illegal and the school authority cannot refuse to give books to any enrolled student under any pretext.”
“I have visited the school on Tuesday and found the truth of the allegation of taking money for textbooks meant for free distribution. I have asked the school authority to return the collected amount immediately,” he said.