Turkey's Education Ministry (MEB) reportedly asked teachers and administrators in the southeastern province of Van for 150 Turkish liras to buy gas for the snowplows the ministry sent to the region.
While classes restarted on Feb. 17 following a 10-day snow break, the roads remain blocked in the southeastern province of Van, which received snowfall of over a meter. Some 176 thousand cubic meters of snow had to be transported out of town.
Van Mayoral Trustee M. Emin Bilmez remarked that the municipality spent nine million liras for the snow clean-up, but a letter sent from the MEB İpekyolu District Directorate said that the ministry would send snowplows and that administrators and teachers should provide funds to buy gas for the machines.
An official from the İpekyolu District Directorate refuted claims about the letter and said that the snow clean-up is being conducted by the Van Municipality.
The official noted that while there might be delays in the work, the municipality is in charge of the clean-up and the claims about a letter are pure speculation.
Claims of workplace harassment
The MEB letter sent to regional schools said that teachers and administrators should use their own resources to clean up the snow in front of their schools, said Bedri Yamaç, Van Chair for the Education and Science Workers' Union (Eğitim-Sen).
While Yamaç acknowledges the District Directorate's request aimed to limit spending, he says that the MEB request is illegal.
"It's unacceptable to put this burden on the shoulders of laborers who already struggle financially when it should be the ministry's job," Yamaç said.
The ministry claims that participation in the clean-up is voluntary, but it doesn't play out that way in practice, Yamaç noted.
"They will engage in workplace harassment toward those who choose not to contribute. Even if it's donations, it creates an awkward situation."