When Is Education Not Education?

Well, when it’s actually forced agricultural labor for one thing.

Uzbekistan boasts very high primary and secondary school enrollment and claims to have a nearly 100% literacy rate. Appearances may be deceiving:

The basis of Uzbekistan’s economy is cotton which makes up 45% of exports. The cotton bolls start to ripen and are ready to be picked in early September, at about the same time that children return to school. But as soon as the children arrive the schools are emptied of 2.7 million children (2006 figures) who are sent by the government to pick the cotton. Teachers, instead of being instructors, became labor recruiters.

In the spring schools are closed for compulsory hoeing, weeding, and transplanting.

Kind of makes on wonder about that high reported literacy rate, doesn’t it?

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Clearly Herman Cain needs to comment on these developments in Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan.

  2. DMan says:

    The good news is these children don’t have to worry about oppressive indoctrination that they face here in schools in America.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    This may seem strange to us today but what common in the US 50 or 60 years ago. When I was growing up in Portland Oregon in the 50s the schools would frequently shut down in the late spring so kids could go pick strawberry’s. It has been my observation that we came out of school more literate than the kids coming out of school today. I’m not really convinced this would negatively impact the literacy rate.

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    In the spring schools are closed for compulsory hoeing, weeding, and transplanting.

    This was normal in primarily agrarian societies. In fact I believe it used to be not uncommon in the US at one time.

  5. @Brummagem Joe:

    Indeed, our current school calendar still reflects an agrarian nation. Of course, the situation in Uzbekistan is a little different since it seems to involve the government forcing children to go pick the cotton

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    If Newt Gingrich had announced the exact same plan 2 months ago, he would have seen a bounce in the polls.

  7. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Of course, the situation in Uzbekistan is a little different since it seems to involve the government forcing children to go pick the cotton

    Of course the govt here has never forced children to pick cotton. I’m not defending the Uzbeks but we’re hardly on the safest ground here. This is a primitive, rather nasty, little post soviet dictatorship engaged in the relatively mild abuse of children. There is no shortage of similar cases around the world (some notably more egregious) so I’m not sure why the Uzbeks should receive special condemnation.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In the spring schools are closed for compulsory hoeing, weeding, and transplanting.

    Makes me ache for the good old days before child labor laws ruined American business.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    I’m not sure why the Uzbeks should receive special condemnation.

    Because Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have started a blog and I wanted to throw them a link.

  10. Peterh says:

    When I was growing up in Portland Oregon in the 50s the schools would frequently shut down in the late spring so kids could go pick strawberry’s

    I never lasted very long…..usually got in a strawberry fight the 1st or 2nd day and was told to start walkin’…..those were some very long walks from the fields to the house in Tigard……still, some fond memories….

  11. Just nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Dave Schuler: Well, since you’re being honest about it…

  12. grumpy realist says:

    Not to pour the teakettle over or anything, but I wonder if a good solid week of pickin’ plants might not be a decent way to deal with truancy etc. Continue to screw up, kid, and this is what you’re looking forwards to for the rest of your life. Stop trying to keep kids in school if they don’t want to be educated, but make them (and their parents) conscious of what they’re turning their backs on.

    (The older i get, the more I feel that all potential parents should be temporarily sterilized until they demonstrate the ability to raise children and to make sure that they will be raised with a decent level of education.)

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I’m not sure why the Uzbeks should receive special condemnation.

    Because Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have started a blog and I wanted to throw them a link.

    Well that sounds entirely logical.

  14. Ron Beasley says:

    @Peterh: You and me both!