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Bhutanese teens work hard to study

Children belonging economically weak families toil for 12 hours a day in the country's orange depots to earn money for their studies.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2007 17:35 IST

Bhutanese children belonging to economically weak families toil for 12 hours a day in the country's orange depots alongside Indian workers to earn money for their studies.

The work includes separating big and small oranges, and packing them in wooden boxes to be exported to Bangladesh, according to Bhutan's official Kuensel online newspaper.

"It would help me buy books, uniforms, pay school fees and the remaining I could use it as pocket money," Kuensel quoted a student as saying.

The children were employed following a directive from the Bhutanese ministry of labour and human resources. The students are paid Nu.100 (Rs.100) per day and will be employed till the orange season ends in February.

However, the employers are unhappy with the students' work culture.

"Some of them work when they want to and come and go at whatever time they want," complained an employer. "And we have to pay them Nu.100 whether they work or not."

Other workers, mostly Indians from across the border, are reportedly paid Nu.5 for packing a box of oranges and Nu.10 if they grade, pack and load the oranges.