Blackface Zwarte Piet dropped from Hague primary schools

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The managing boards of all the primary schools in The Hague have agreed to adjust the facade of Zwarte Piet and drop discriminatory features of the character. They feel that every child, regardless of color or race, should feel at ease during the Sinterklaas festival.

"There were pupils who did not feel comfortable with the Sinterklaas celebrations due to the presence of Zwarte Piet", Gerard van Drielen, chairman of the Foundation Christian Education Haaglanden, said to newspaper AD on behalf of all the primary schools. According to him, this knowledge combined by the led to this decision.

The Hague schools have given themselves three years to phase the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet out and introduce a neutral Piet. Zwarte Piet will be stripped of his completely black painted face, big red lips, frizzy hair and gold earrings. He will also no longer be put down as Sinterklaas' dumb, submissive helper. The schools are required to have one in five of their Pieten meet these requirements in the forthcoming Sinterklaas festival.

"It is remarkable that all the schools stand behind this, both the Protestant and Catholic and public education. Smaller independent schools have also committed themselves to it", Van Drielen said to the newspaper.

Last year some primary schools in Amsterdam and Utrecht already switched to a more modernized version of Zwarte Piet, but this is the first time that all primary schools in a big city have agreed to do so.