Asian stereotype used in Dutch reading lesson: report

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Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins). Primary school classroom (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Douglas P Perkins)

A reading method used at Dutch primary schools to teach children the double sound of "ng", mocks Asian people. Asian parents sounded the alarm, and the lesson is no longer used. But University of Amsterdam media scientist Reza Kartosen-Wong is worried by the lack of outcry about this "racist stereotype", he said to Het Parool.

The lesson was aimed at teaching double sound "ng" to kids. Translated from Dutch, it reads: "Chinese letter. Shing, shang shong is playing ping-pong in Hong Kong." The method also recommends a gesture to drive the lesson home - using index fingers to pull your eyes to mimic the Epicanthic fold characteristic of people from Asian countries. This teaching method was created by pedagogue Jose Schraven and formed part of Onderwijssgek's lessons. It has been used in primary schools for five years, according to the newspaper. 

An Asian father recently noticed the method being used at primary school Laterna Magica and expressed his indignation on Facebook, according to Het Parool. Other parents shared his concerns. Onderwijssgek changed the text due to the parents' concerns and Laterna Magica is no longer using this specific method. 

It's great that the offensive material was removed, but it does not change the root of the problem, Reza Kartosen-Wong wrote in Het Parool on Monday. "Teachers, pedagogues and educational experts involved worked with this method for years without realizing it involved racist stereotypes." He finds it striking that there was no public outrage about this. "In schools "hankie pankie shanghai" is still sung with slit eyes. We would not accept this from other stereotypes", he added. 

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