Uzbekistan: The students in the Tashkent Oblast do not go to secondary schools (photo)
Photo by © Ferghana.Ru. October 3, 2009. Yangiyul, the Tashkent Oblast. The photos are available at Gallery.Ferghana.Ru
Since September 20 the students of colleges and lyceums in Yangiyul rayon of the Tashkent Oblast in Uzbekistan have been working in the cotton fields. The local residents say that secondary school students in the remote villages of the same area also started the cotton season. Ferghana.Ru correspondents decided to learn more about the schoolchildren labor in harvesting raw cotton.
The city of Yyangiyul, located 30 kilometers away to the south-west of Uzbek capital, has only few schools with Russian as the language of instruction. Parents say that it is quite difficult to be enrolled in these schools. Everybody wants to see their kids in these schools because they do not participate in the cotton campaign. The seats here are limited and, therefore, parents have to bribe local authorities in order to send their offspring to these schools.
The part of the Tashkent Oblast map. Yangiyul is pointed with red color
"We live in the village of the Yangiyul rayon and we are not registered as the residents of the town. Every year the kids from local schools participate in the cotton campaign. We want our children to attend classes, but not to harvest the cotton. Therefore, we sent our kids to the school in the city of Yangiyul. We paid a little bit for that but it is worth it", the parents share.
The residents note that this year every student had to pay 2000 sums (a little over 1 US dollar) in order "to bribe" some local officials from regional department of education so that, in their turn, they could persuade the hokim (the head of district administration) not to involve certain schools in the cotton campaign".
Six-graders in the fields of the Tashkent Oblast in Uzbekistan. The photos from Yangiyul are available at the Gallery.Ferghana.Ru
"These schools do not participate in the campaign. However, the students from remote areas, colleges and lyceums work hard in the fields these days", the local residents say.
We visited two schools in the village of Gulbakhor. We witnessed "dead" school yard and big lock at the entrance door. We asked the locals where kids had been gone. "Where? They are at the cotton fields", the side walkers yelled at us as if we were coming from another planet. They showed the fields, where the students and their teachers were working. It was only two hundred meters away.
We met the students of 6-7 grades at the very first field. They totally refused to take picture with us. "Are you journalists? Why do you snap us?" We said we were ordinary tourists. "Tourists at the cotton fields? Are not there beautiful places? Why do you take picture of children?", the supervising teachers asked. They also advised to see the local policeman to ask for permission to take pictures.
We learned that the children have been working here since September 25. "The students of 6-7 grades are working in this field. At the next fields you will find high school students and the crew of teachers. We all have to collect certain volume of cotton. If we fail to do so, we will not get 13th salary. The middle school students are here voluntarily. It is perfect that they work for the good of the state", the supervisors mentioned.
At the same time, we observed students, working hard to harvest the cotton in the bags. We felt little shy and decided to help out young generation. It was a bad idea: we scratched our hands severely and started sneezing.
Schoolchildren are reluctant to take picture. The photos are available at the Gallery.Ferghana.Ru
- Do you, guys, like your job here? – we inquired. The kids kept silence and continued their work.
We were planning to reach the next field and observe the work there, but we did not do it. The son of the local farmer was quickly approaching us. We realized that we should better take off and avoid the communication with police. The guy was kind enough to walk us to the highway. The negative reaction by teachers, kids’ questions, the presence of policeman at the cotton field, as well as anxiety about our visit – this all demonstrates that the population was informed about possible visits of the journalists.
At the international level, the government of Uzbekistan continues to state that it took measures to get rid of child labor at the agricultural plantations. However, at the local level, it continues to attract children for work at cotton fields. The only difference is that every year the state puts more efforts in order to hide such fact.
Own source. Yangiyul, the Tashkent Oblast