Şanlıurfa children skip school opening to work in cotton fields
ŞANLIURFA – Doğan News Agency
Children picking cotton earn between 15 and 30 Turkish Lira each day. DHA PhotoAs millions of children headed to their classrooms on Sept. 15 for the start of the school year, children in Şanlıurfa skipped school to head toward the cotton fields, where they earn tiny sums of money for their families by completing the year’s harvest in 40-degree-heat.
Each year thousands of students in Turkey’s southeastern province delay the academic year by two months due to a culture of child labor, despite a considerable raise in awareness on behalf of NGOs over the last decade.
Fourteen-year-old Saliha Deniz, who works in the field with her sister and eight brothers, said she had to finish school two months early and start two months late every year. “We also want to go to school in due time, but our economic situation is not good. We will provide for our school necessities after the harvest is finished at the cotton field and start our courses two months late,” said Deniz, adding that she was dreaming of becoming a doctor.
Children picking cotton earn between 15 and 30 Turkish Lira each day, a petty sum that parents say is indispensable.
“We have no jobs here. That’s why we go together with our family to make a living. We can’t send our children to school because it opens during the harvest,” said İbrahim Gözyam, a worker and father of five.
Despite numerous campaigns in southern Turkey to encourage families to send their children, particularly daughters, to schools, activists highlight that more should be done to encourage action from producers and consumers alike.