First-person perspectives on the world of work
Photo: ILO/OIT - Palm Ollé Hervé Issam
Child labour

A child should go to school, not to work

My name is Domboué Nibéissé. I am 15 years old. When I was 9 years old I had to leave school to work in the cotton fields. 

I live with my aunt, I have five older brothers, five older sisters and three younger sisters.

I started school when I was 8 years old, but one year later in CE1 (2nd year of primary school) I stopped school because we didn't have enough money. I was upset not to go. I didn't like it because my friends would go to school and leave me on my own.

When I stopped going to school, I went to work in the fields to earn some money.

It was difficult work and tiring.  We picked cotton by hand. There were a few other children working alongside me.

Women at work harvesting cotton in a field in Burkina Faso.

I used to work in cotton fields like this all day long.   


I used to start sowing at 9am, rest around 1pm, and at 4pm I would go home. I was given between 500 (USD 0.79) and 750 francs (USD 1.19).

When it was not sowing or harvest time, on market days, I helped sell clothes to make some money. 

It was difficult work and tiring.  We picked cotton by hand.

Domboué NibéisséStudent

When I was 11 years old, a school reintegration centre (Centre de Stratégie de Scolarisation Accélérée / Passerelle - SSA/P) contacted us so that I could return to school.  I was able to join the centre, and I was really happy because I knew I would learn a lot.

Domboué Nibéissé stands next to a bike and smiles.

On the way to school!

© ILO/OIT - Palm Ollé Hervé Issam

At the SSA/P centre, I learned to count and read in Dioula, we did our homework in Dioula, and then we learned to count and do calculations and homework in French. Thanks to this, I was able to go back to school in the formal system, in CM1 class (fourth year of primary school).

Domboué Nibéissé poses for the camera outside with a group of boys.  One of the boys holds a football.

I like to play football with my friends.

© ILO/OIT - Palm Ollé Hervé Issam

Now that I am back at school I feel good. I am very happy because I have found my friends.  During recess I like to play football with them.

My favourite subject is the study of texts.  When I grow up I want to be a policeman.

Domboué Nibéissé se tient devant l'entrée de l'école.

I am happy to be back in school.

© ILO/OIT - Palm Ollé Hervé Issam

Children belong in school, not at work. When I was working I didn't like it because it made me tired. And even though school is sometimes a bit difficult, I will learn and one day I will earn a living from it.

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