Students in the Jizzak region of Uzbekistan in preparation for the sowing of cotton, the independent website uznews.net reported.
Teenagers of 15 and 16 years of age were told they had to help do the weeding to help maximize this year's crop, to come at a time of record highs of the price of cotton.
Cotton surged to $2/lb in February and has now fallen to a still-high rate of $1.45-$1.50/lb as farmers are expected to put more cropland under cotton.
Although Uzbekistan signed and ratified the International Labor Convention banning the worst forms of child labor, the practice of enlisting children into cotton fieldwork persists.
A local teacher told uznews.net that the children were prevented from studying for their exams by being forced to pick weeds. Says the Uzbek reporters:
Sources claim that Jizak Regional education department was involved in sending high school pupils to the cotton fields. The campaign is no surprise to many activists trying to end the Uzbek government’s reliance on forced child labor, to maximize its yields from cotton growing and exports each year.
Uzbekistan has not issued an invitation to the ILO to inspect farms during the cotton harvest.