Icelandic Children taught that Black men are called Negroes Featured

Photo: Jón Geir Jóhannsson Photo: Jón Geir Jóhannsson

"Men on earth are not all the same. Black people are called Negroes. Most of them live in Africa." This is a part of a reading exercise for second grade children in Iceland, seven years old. The father of a second grade girl posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook a couple of days ago and the story has gone viral since.

Racism in Iceland

The assignment in question can be seen in the photo above (in Icelandic) but roughly translates to:

"Men on earth are not all the same. Black people are called Negroes. They mostly live in Africa. Yellow men are called Mongols. They mostly live in Asia. Red men are called redskins or Indians. They mostly live in America. Brown men are called Malayans. They mostly live in South Asia."

The first part of the assignment is to read the text, but underneath the children are supposed to fill in the blanks:

Black people are called _____________

Yellow people are called _____________

and so on.

'Negri' in Icelandic could translate to either 'nigger' or 'negro', obviously a very inappropriate word, especially in children's textbooks.

The book has been pulled

It has been found out that very few (if any) schools still use this book but it was discovered in Varmárskóli elementary school in Mosfellsbær, just outside of Reykjavík. The school's principal Þórhildur Elvarsdóttir told Ví "It’s self-evident that this was a mistake, we have pulled this book out of circulation".

Hopefully isolated incident

The National Centre for Educational Materials removed the book from their program and stopped distributing it years ago. It seems as if this incident was isolated in this school, where probably just a few copies were left.

"It was an unfortunate mistake"

Principal Elvarsdóttir went on, saying that teachers used the book to give students extra practice but that it had probably not been examined closely enough.

"The book was quickly taken out of use this morning. We regret this very much. It was an unfortunate mistake.", she said.


Last modified onWednesday, 12 February 2014 16:52
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