NHRC: Many Textbooks Are Discriminatory

June 26th, 2009 · Education and ESL, Foreigners · 0 comments

Original article.

On page 163, a sixth-grade ethics textbook features says, “Let’s Help Sad Children of the World” and goes on to list teen mothers, disabled children, and orphans on its list of “miserable children”. The equation of “disabled or orphaned” with “miserable” is a cause of prejudice.

A study has found that textbooks currently used in elementary, middle, and high schools are full of discriminatory content which gives rise to prejudice against socially weak groups.

On the 25th the National Human Rights Commission (국가인권위원회) held a conference regarding the introduction of human rights-friendly textbooks and also introduced examples of textbooks which contain human rights violations.

On page 151 an ethics textbook for students in the third year of middle school introduces good ways to celebrate holidays, saying, “you should consider the women working hard to prepare food and greet guests, and work together with them by sharing roles.” This sexually-discriminatory passage presupposes that preparing holiday food is a woman’s role.

On a worksheet for sixth graders, doctors, pilots, and police are depicted as men while teachers and nurses are depicted as women. In a section on international agreements, a 108-page high school social studies textbook published by company ㄱdepicts all country representatives as men.

Many sections promote family-related prejudice. The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (교육과학기술부) has given its official seal of approval to high school social studies textbook, published by company ㅈ, which on page 249 presents “normal families” and “broken families” as opposites. A passage on page 267 of the same textbook compares “disabled people” to “normal people”.

Other examples were presented where both sides of a social conflict were not treated equally. the 61st and 62nd pages of a second-year middle school ethics textbook introduce the point of view of local residents regarding the “green belt” policy but fails to present any criticisms of what they say. The passage reads, “people living in the green belt… obstructed public hearings and made a scene.” The 105th page of a third-year middle school social studies textbook published by company ㄱ contains a passage on the effort by residents of Dongdae-mun, Seoul, to protest a train development project, and says of those residents who blocked the work of Korail (철도청) that “the protests faded away after forcing financial compensation.”

In a passage on family health, the 143rd page of a third-year middle school ethics textbook advises students that “married couples help each other to have self-esteem and happiness.” Kim Cheol-hong, chair of the NHRC’s human rights education department, said, “this emphasizes the idea that single-parent households are unhealthy.”

The NHRC announced, “new textbooks should contain human rights information from the early planning stages.”

No comments

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.