Pupils from several schools in the Vobkent district of the Bukhara region have been mobilized to pick cotton. According to parents and teachers, classes for the 7-9th grade pupils are canceled ed and pupils are being forced to pick cotton regardless of bad weather conditions.
Classes for the senior pupils at schools No.5 and No.35 were canceled
Instead of bags and books, pupils are taking old clothes and aprons to school.
According to a teacher from school No.5 in the Vobkent district, the mobilization of pupils was initiated by the school administration:
“It has been 3 days since all classes were canceled. Pupils are ordered to gather outside the school at 8 am every morning. Then they are transported to the cotton fields. Teachers are assigned to escort the pupils. Pupils also have to bring their lunches with them.”
According to the teacher, pupils are forced to pick cotton regardless of bad weather conditions.
“It has been cold and rainy for the last few days. There is no cotton left on the fields. Students are forced to pick out unripe cotton from its boll.”
Another anonymous teacher told Ozodlik that students would not be able to have their holidays.
“Pupils missed so many classes. They literally dropped out of their studies. However, the head of the public education department told our principal that pupils would need to take the missed classes during their holidays. As far as I know, the Khokim ordered the mobilization of the pupils to pick cotton.”
An official who had introduced himself as an assistant of the Khokim, neither denied nor confirmed the use of child labor during the cotton harvest.
“I have no such information”, said the assistant of the Khokim.
This is not the first time school pupils have been seen picking cotton. According to several independent sources of Ozodlik, 5-9th grade pupils studying in different schools in the Nishon district of the Qashqadaryo Region have been forcibly sent to pick cotton.
October 26, 2016