© Radio Ozodlik 2017

“I am here to re-programme your brain” – Teachers Warned they Must Contribute to Cotton Harvest

Radio Ozodlik has published a video portraying the meeting that took place on October 10, 2017 at school No. 39 of the Markhamat district in the Andijan region. The eight-minute video, apparently shot using a hidden camera, shows a speech by an official of the district education department, who chastises the school’s teachers for not giving money to hire cotton pickers. Since the government’s decision to recall teachers from the fields on September 22, there is now a shortage of labour and teachers are required to pay for replacement workers.

Referring to a source in the administration of the Andijan region, Radio Ozodlik reported that each director of regional schools received orders to send 50 employees to the cotton harvest. According to the official, the administration did not demand that money be collected from teachers, but that the school directors were ordered to “find cotton pickers.”

To fulfill the order of the regional authorities, the schools sent all technical workers to collect cotton and in addition, requested that teachers give money for hired workers. Each teacher of school No. 39 where the meeting took place, had to hand over 200,000 soums ($ 24) to hire cotton pickers for 10 days. However, it is clear from the video that many teachers did not give money.

200,000 soums is almost half the monthly salary of a teacher and is a significant burden for their family.

In the video, an official of the district public education department says that she works two days a week as a teacher in college and is seen threatening school teachers who refuse to bring money by inspecting the quality of their work. “Do not get me wrong,” says the official, “if you make me nervous because of the cotton, I’ll go to the principle, too.” I will leave all other work and sit in on all of your lessons. I will check how you conduct your classes, I will check your documents and check the attendance of students.”

This is the transcript of the speech of the employee of the department of public education on October 10, 2017, before the teachers of school No. 39 of the Markhamat district in the Andijan region:

Translation from Uzbek

“You had to send eleven collectors to Kurgantepa (district). Only five went. The rest fell ill. What are you doing here?

I also have 200 lessons in college. I work there on Monday and Saturday. There was a meeting and we were told “you get so much salary if you bring 30 kg of cotton by 5pm. “If you want, you can collect it; if you want, you can buy it from a farmer; if you want, you can pay  the farmer in kind for the cotton, but you must provide 30 kg of cotton by 5 pm.

In Kurgantepa and Jallakuduk (two districts in the Andijan region) it was necessary to send two people from each division (from the district education department). Each teacher paid 22,000 soums. 600,000 soums were collected to pay for hired workers. I myself receive 200,000 soums salary per month for 200 hours of work in the college. I’m doing it. And why don’t you do it?

Why do you not obey this woman? (indicates the director of the school). Those who do not have lessons, should go out (to pick cotton) themselves. Many classes are divided into two groups. The school is big. You receive a salary. Correct? This state pays you a salary. Why don’t you do the work of the state? Why don’t you care about the cotton?

They say “I’ll write to the Portal” (referring to the online platform for complaints from the public to the president). Okay, write. But then they (means district administration) will tell me, get rid of him/her, and take someone instead who can cope (with harvesting cotton).

I need to deliver the report by 8pm o’clock. I will say that the history teacher does not do what is needed. I will be told: we have another history teacher. He is able to conduct lessons and manage cotton. Is he really dissatisfied with one month of cotton?  Nobody collects cotton for a year. Is that right?

The weather deteriorated. How do I report now for two people, for only 50 kg of cotton for two? (on this day, money was collected to hire only two people from the school). I will be thrown out of work.

Now take classes, continue to work. Mobilize parents and find the required number of cotton pickers.

Consider the collection of cotton seriously. Every day, if you do not go out yourself, there are sisters, nieces, relatives. Make a schedule, so many teachers (in school). 100% of technical workers must go to the collection.

Do not misunderstand. I often rely on the help of the school, but you also need me. If you do not listen to me during the cotton season, then I will go to the principle. I will leave my job and will sit in on all of your lessons. I will check the quality of classes, documents, regulations, check attendance. All of you do shoddy work. Now, if you don’t cooperate, I will go to the principle.

Now I’ll go with you to the cotton. Those who do not go today, should be ready to go tomorrow morning. At 8pm o’clock I should be at a meeting at the cotton headquarters. Do not misunderstand me. We hired mardikors for 200-300,000 soums. We have a salary of 400-500,000 soums. You can ask Saida (points at someone). I worked with this woman. She has 500 lessons (per year) in this school, and every 10 days she gives 200,000 to hire a cotton picker. We are told to do it, and we did it.

Everyone knows their rights. That’s correct, they said, teachers should not go to pick cotton. But I was told to go and change this program in their brains. They say let them attract their parents. This is what I was told, this is politics. Do not misunderstand.

Therefore, be ready for cotton work. If you cannot, then say – “I cannot”, and write a statement (about dismissal from work), and I will fill your place with someone who can perform this work.

Who has questions?

Tell me … Here (pointing to someone, probably the principal of the school), she says that you are not paying. You were supposed to send eleven people to Kuurgantepu, and only five were sent.

There are those who always pay. There are unscrupulous people who do not give (money). You know your rights, but also remember duties.

The cotton is not for me. Help the state and tomorrow the state will return your help.

Addressing the director: We have paid for hours of public works.

Director: “There are those who handed in 30,000 for two and three shifts. You need to thank them and say “this is for the state, not for someone else”. Those who do not hand over money, have only themselves to blame. Let it be on their conscience. But when the commission comes, I will bring them here to this room.”

So, whoever has not paid yet, bring the money. I need to take the report by 8 o’clock. Make me a list of those who refuse. Let each one write an explanation. We will not argue, not create a fuss. Write down the names of those who refuse. If you say “I cannot”, I will write to the portal (online platform for complaints from the public to the president), so write it. I will hand it to the chairman (obviously the head of the district) at 8pm o’clock.”

Original source: https://www.ozodlik.org/a/28794527.html