On September 13, a sixth-grader returned from school dirty. An 11-year-old boy told his mother that in the heat, the children were forced to carry heavy pumpkins for two lessons. The younger son complained of a headache, but the teacher did not allow him to "rest" without help. She also threatened with "appropriate" assessments.
The mother of an 11-year-old schoolboy Natalya Matsykura complained to the educational ombudsman Serhiy Gorbachov and is going to appeal to the prosecutor's office. The story did not end with this: the pumpkins "disappeared" from the scene of the incident, details appeared about threats not to give out textbooks to those who disagree, and the price of 20 USD for refusing to undergo "practice" in the garden.
We figure out whether children should clean and work at school, how it is regulated by law, and who to complain to.
Why forced labor at school is illegal
The only thing a child is obliged to do at school is to study. Cleaning classrooms, raking leaves from the school grounds, cleaning up garbage in city parks during lessons is not the business of either students or even teachers.
As the educational ombudsman explained, the involvement of students during the educational process to perform work or to participate in activities not related to the implementation of the educational program is prohibited (part 5 of article 53 of the Law of Ukraine "On Education").
"What, tell me, the educational program provides for the work of children during the lessons in the garden or cleaning the city?" Gorbachov said.
According to Part 1 of Art. 53 of the Law of Ukraine "On Education", education seekers have the right to safe and harmless learning conditions; ... protection against any form of exploitation.
But there are exceptions: voluntary volunteering. If you wish, you can help plant flowers in the yard or clean up the parking area only after hours. The Ombudsman explained that this is a socially-oriented, non-profit activity carried out by volunteers by providing assistance.
Persons from 14 to 18 years old can volunteer only with parental consent. At the same time, they cannot help in medical institutions, eliminate the consequences of bad weather or accidents, help the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the military, the police, government bodies during, etc.
In some cases, legal labor of minors (from 15 years old) is allowed, but it should also not be during lessons. Minor labor is regulated by a number of laws prohibiting children from working on weekends and lifting heavy objects.
New sanitary regulations
If this is not enough, in January 2021 another document appeared in Ukraine - "Sanitary Regulations." Section IV says that "in the process of self-service, students must keep their own workplace clean and take away the trash after themselves."
The student should not litter and remove food wrappers, husks, and gum remnants. Children are allowed to be involved in watering flowers and wet cleaning the surfaces of classrooms (except for windows and floors). We are talking only about students in grades 5-12. At the same time, children should not use detergents and disinfectants.
Self-service work should be carried out with the participation of pedagogical and/or medical workers and should not exceed 1 hour per week.
Maximum weight of cargo for lifting by schoolchildren: 11-12 years old - up to 4 kg, 13-14 years old - up to 5 kg, 15 years old: boys - 12 kg, girls - 6 kg, 16 years old - 14 and 7 kg, respectively, 17 years old - 16 and 8 kg.
Whom to complain to?
If a child has suffered from labor exploitation, you can contact:
- Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights. Address for inquiries: [email protected] or website;
- the educational ombudsman;
- the police;
- State Service of Ukraine for Labor (on compliance with labor legislation, including minors);
- Additionally - the State Food and Drug Administration in the case of the use of detergents, disinfectants, and other harmful agents by children, dangerous conditions for the child.
According to Art. 150 of the Criminal Code, exploitation of a child is punishable by arrest for up to six months or restriction of will for up to three years, with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for up to three years. The same actions committed against several children are punishable by imprisonment from two to five years with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions for up to three years.