Schools in large Dutch cities increasingly abandon blackface Zwarte Piet

Sooty Piet (Picture: Twitter/@Warda_E) chimney pietChimney Piet (Picture: Twitter/@Warda_E)

Primary schools in large cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague and the municipalities around them are increasingly using Pieten with soot marks on their faces in the Sinterklaas celebration, rather than the traditional blackface Zwarte Piet, according to a survey of over 580 schools by DUO Education Research & Advice, reports.

According to the study, 69 percent of primary schools in the three large cities use Chimney Pieten, compared with 49 percent of schools in the region "other Noord- and Zuid-Holland and Utrecht". In the remaining regions only 16 to 20 percent of primary schools use Chimney Pieten in their Sinterklaas celebrations. 

Primary schools in the three large cities are also less likely to use blackface Zwarte Pieten than schools in other areas. 47 percent of schools in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague have traditional blackface Pieten in their Sinterklaas celebrations, compared to 71 percent in the region "other Noord- and Zuid-Holland and Utrecht", and 90 to 93 percent in the other regions. 

There is also a clear difference between public schools and confessional schools. Larger schools with over 200 pupils use Chimney Pieten more often than smaller schools.

A total of 30 percent of Dutch primary schools now use Chimney Pieten, "whether or not combined with other Pieten", according to DUO. That is an increase of 5 percent compared to last year.