The education ministry is planning to provide financial assistance to over two lakh non-government school and college teachers and staff, who are outside the government's monthly pay order (MPO) scheme.
Many non-MPO teachers and staff have not received any salary since the government closed down all educational institutions on March 17 to stem the coronavirus contagion.
Considering their hardship, the ministry has already sent a proposal to the Prime Minister's Office seeking allocation for providing a one-time grant to the non-MPO teachers and staff within the month of June.
Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury told The Daily Star on Friday that they were actively considering the incentive.
Top officials of the ministry said they have prepared two alternative proposals. Under the first one, each non-MPO teacher would get a one-time grant of Tk 8,000 and each staff Tk 4,000, while Tk 5,000 and Tk 2,500 respectively under the second.
"For the Tk 8,000 for a teacher and Tk 4,000 for a staff, the education ministry will need a total of Tk 126 crore. For the other proposal, we will need Tk 79 crore," said a top official.
Across the country, there are 1,51,325 teachers and 85,217 staff at non-government schools and colleges, outside the MPO scheme, as per ministry estimates.
Those listed under MPO get 100 percent basic salary from the exchequer.
According to Bangladesh Teachers Association President Nazrul Islam Rony, more than two lakh non-MPO teachers of secondary school and colleges are facing hardship as their educational institutions are closed due to coronavirus outbreak.
"In the absence of salaries, the teachers are living an inhuman life," Rony said, adding if the educational institutions remain closed for long, the situation of teachers will be catastrophic.
Authorities of non-government educational institutions argue that they could not pay the salaries of their employees as the tuition fees from students, their only source of earnings, could not be collected.
According to Rony, only a few renowned schools in the capital could pay the salaries of their employees from the school savings, without being dependent on tuition fees.
Non-MPO teachers said they are usually ill-paid and provide private tuition to enhance their earnings. Now with schools closed and children mostly staying home, they lost both the means of earning.
Although the pandemic-induced general holiday ends today, all educational institutions will remain closed until June 15.
However, on April 27, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said all educational institutions may stay closed until September if the coronavirus situation does not improve.
The government on May 23 started listing non-MPO teachers. They are collecting mobile phone numbers and NID numbers of all non-MPO teachers and staff through field-level education officials, supervised by the local administration officers.
Education ministry officials said they sent a letter to all deputy commissioners in this regard on May 23.
Many teachers believe that the government is collecting information to provide financial assistance during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
However, Mominur Rashid Amin, additional secretary of secondary and higher education division, said this list has nothing to do with incentives.
The existing list is being updated, he added.
"The decision about incentives will come from the government high-ups," said Mominur, who is overseeing the listing process.
Swadhinota Shikkhak Parishad leaders in a statement on Wednesday and Bangladesh Non-Government Honour's-Master's College Teachers' Forum, in a separate statement on Thursday, alleged that field-level officials were not listing all non-MPO teachers and staff.
Shikkhak Parishad General Secretary Shahjahan Alam Shaju alleged that teachers and staff, working at schools under MPO but not covered by the MPO scheme yet, were not getting listed.
Meanwhile, Nekbor Hossain, convenor of teachers' forum, said officials were not listing non-MPO teachers working at honours and masters colleges.
Mominur said that they will sort out the issues.
"Non-MPO teachers and staff working at educational institutions that have the Educational Institute Identification Number issued by the government will be listed."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina so far announced a total of 18 stimulus packages worth around Tk 1,01,117 crore, which is around 3.5 percent of the country's GDP, to offset the shock of COVID-19 pandemic on various sectors of the country.