Issuing transfer certificates (TCs) to students as a disciplinary measure is rampant in schools across Bangladesh even though there’s no such provision in the regulations, according to the government’s Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE).
The DSHE guideline for educational institutions stipulates that a TC can be only issued if parents want to admit their children to another institution.
Yet, parents, guardians and children’s rights activists say that school authorities often use TC as a disciplinary action.
“Students cannot be given TCs (as a disciplinary action). There’s no such provision as per my knowledge,” DSHE Director Dr Abdul Mannan told Bangla Tribune.
“The guidelines outline measures to address misconducts by students. Only the parents can ask the school to issue a TC for their children, should they choose to change school,” he said.
Asked whether the DSHE has any mechanism to monitor these issues, the DSHE official said, “The trend has significantly decreased. We now receive data from the Upazilas.”
On Monday (Dec 3), Viqarunnisa Noon School student Aritree Adhikari was found hanging from the ceiling fan of her room locked from inside.
The 15-year-old girl’s family claimed she committed suicide after the school’s teachers including its principal insulted her and the parents because she had cheated in an exam.
Her death sparked fury on the social media and protests on the streets in front of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, a top school in Bangladesh.
“Students need to be loved. It’s not right for the teachers’ to harass students,” says DSHE Director (Secondary studies) Mannan.
It’s the teachers’ responsibility to nurse the students and guide them onto the right path, he added.
According to 1930 Education code, school authorities can expel a student for misconducts, but that too only after giving adequate opportunity to correct themselves.
It also says that students must be counselled on a regular basis.
When a student is given TC for misconduct or as a disciplinary action it induces mental pressure, says psychologist Mekhla Sarkar.
“Students in their early teens will make mistakes which have to be corrected,” she said before adding that counselling for teachers in Bangladesh is imminent.
Rights activists say that school should not have the authority to issue TCs.
“You (schools) are calling it quits by issuing a TC for a child but does that solve the problem?” says Abdullah Al Mamun, who works on child’s rights issue for non-profit organisation Manusher Jonno Foundation.
Referring to the incident of the Viqarunnisa School ninth-grader, he said, “TC creates the opportunity of making some money over filling up the vacant seat. Parents are required to make so-called donations, in hefty amounts, to admit their children. They just did not want to miss the chance to admit a student in the ninth grade.”
The institutions are also liable for students’ disciplinary misconduct, says Mamun before adding, “These top schools admit the best students. If something goes wrong even after that then the schools should be also liable.”
If the guideline does not stipulate TCs as a disciplinary action and schools practice it then it constitutes as a crime, says Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua.
“It falls upon the school if one of its students is falling behind compared to others, but instead of taking responsibility they want the student out of their institution,” he told Bangla Tribune before adding that the bottom line is schools want to make it clear that the student is not good enough.
There’s no such thing as good or bad schools, according to Barua. “There’s no good schools until there’s good students. The question which should be raised is why the institutions did not focus on a student even after they charge hundreds of thousands (of taka)? It’s their failure.”
The death of Aritree exposes Viqarunnisa Noon School and College’s controversial handling of students and teachers’ behaviour with their parents and guardians when anything goes wrong.