Towards a Financially Sustainable Approach to Education and the Issue of Equity: A Study on BRAC Shishu Niketan Schools
Samir Ranjan Nath
Date: 28 September 2017; Time: 12:00 pm to 01:30 pm; Venue: RED Conference Room (15th Floor)
Research Findings Presentation
BRAC operated a non-formal primary education programme for three decades on a philanthropic mode with financial support from the international development partners. Such support is shrinking and may not be available in near future as a result of improved economic development of Bangladesh. In response, BRAC has made a strategic shift to its programmatic approach. BRAC education programme is trying to be self-sustainable. Therefore, a financially sustainable approach to education service delivery has been adopted in early 2016. The main of this approach is cost recovery; meaning that students are charged monthly tuition fees for education in BRAC schools. Earlier, in a fee-free mode, priority was given to the admission of poorer section of the societies in BRAC schools. There is a feeling that the student population in BRAC schools may have changed due to introduction of tuition fees. This study is therefore, explores the characteristics predicting children’s enrolment in BRAC schools taking Shishu Niketans as a case and to what extent BRAC is able to serve the poorer section. The other issues of exploration are reasons of admission in Shishu Niketans, private cost of education and recovery of cost. The sample comprised of 1,082 first graders of 2017, residing around 17 Shishu Niketans. The findings reveal that the Shishu Niketans significantly influencing fee-free market to transform it as a fee-paying market and are addressing a relatively affluent section of the societies bypassing the poorer. Under-aged children without pre-primary education are more likely to admit in Shishu Niketans. The other characteristics to do so are having BRAC school alumni and NGO samity member at home. Parents send their children to Shishu Niketans with an expectation of quality education.Tuition fees vary from one Shishu Niketan to another without much justification. Higher fee-paying students are more likely to keep payment overdue. Not serving the poorest may be a point of discussion. Revisit of the process of fixing tuition fees may also be required. Meeting of parental expectation of quality education through adequate resource allocation is a challenge.