The government will require more than Tk 40,000 crore annually if it nationalises all non-government educational institutions of secondary and higher secondary levels.
The education ministry has recently come up with the primary estimate in the wake of street agitation by teachers, who are pressing for nationalisation of their jobs as well as institutions.
In a review report, the ministry said the government has to spend around Tk 40,189.5 crore, nearly 40 percent of government expenditure in non-development sector, if it nationalises 35,396 educational institutions, including MPO-listed and non-MPO schools, colleges, madrasas and technical institutions.
Of the institutions, 27,647 schools, colleges and madrasas are enjoying the monthly pay order (MPO) facility, and the rest continue to press for it. These institutions are run under the supervision of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) and the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE).
Teachers and employees of MPO-listed institutions under the banner of pro-government and pro-opposition teachers' associations are simultaneously waging movement with almost similar demands.
Pro-ruling party teachers' associations demand nationalisation of the entire education system, while BNP-backed bodies mainly want nationalisation of their jobs.
The teachers boycotted classes for three weeks this month to press home their demands, hampering the academic activities of secondary and higher secondary students.
Their movement apparently gained a thrust after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina nationalised 26,193 non-government primary schools on January 9.
A section of pro-government teachers' bodies even claims the government would not require extra money if it nationalises the entire education system.
They argue that the government can nationalise the institutions in three phases and arrange the necessary funds over three fiscal years.
But the ministry's report doesn't substantiate their claim.
Around Tk 20,150.64 crore will be needed every year if the government nationalises MPO-listed and non-MPO 21,014 schools, says the report.
The ministry has allocated Tk 303.97 crore for 317 public schools in the current fiscal year. The annual expenditure of each school is Tk 95.89 lakh on average. The spending includes teachers' salaries and other benefits, not pension and gratuity.
On the other hand, the ministry allocated Tk 566.74 crore for 252 public colleges in this fiscal year and the annual expenditure of a single public college is Tk 2.24 crore on average.
If the government nationalises MPO-listed and non-MPO 4,844 colleges, it will have to spend Tk 10,891.77 crore annually, the report says.
The government now spends around Tk 4,800 crore annually for MPO-listed schools, colleges, madrasas and technical institutes under DSHE and DTE to pay basic salaries of teachers and employees of these institutions.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid has termed the teachers' demands impractical.
"Our total budget for the education ministry is around Tk 11,600 crore and we would require Tk 40,000 crore if we nationalise these MPO-listed and non-MPO educational institutions," he told The Daily Star.
"The teachers have to understand the reality."
He said no previous government had done what this government did for teachers in the last four years.