Schoolbook publishers censor learning material to avoid problems with religious groups
The four largest Dutch schoolbook publishers censor their teaching material for elementary schools out of fear of repercussions from strictly religious Christian organizations, according to the NRC. Publishers instructed authors and illustrators to avoid topics, such as make-up, short skirts, sporting on Sundays, Carnival and evolution because the publishers do not want to lose strongly religious clients.
The four publishers in question include Malmberg, Zwijsen, Noordhoff and ThiemeMeulenhoff, the NRC said.
Censoring school material stunts children's educational development, freelance authors and illustrators told the newspaper. "I do not think that this is acceptable for a school book publisher to do," author Annemarie Bon said.
Her colleague Marc ter Horst agreed that avoiding topics, such as evolution, "misses out on the chance to get children excited for history and biology. That is doing a disservice to children."
Many elementary schools are unaware that censorship is going on. "What you do not know, you do not see," director of the Public Montessori School in Zwolle Linda Morssinkhof said. Some schools wished for more transparency from the publishers.
Reformatory elementary school teacher Gerdien Lassche said she believes censorship is justified in some cases. "You can call it cleaning. As a Christian, you are obliged to prepare children in a good way for their life in society, " the teacher said.
"We value that students work with learning material that cannot hurt individuals or groups in any way," Malmberg wrote on their website.
In response to an employee who voiced her criticism of the guidelines, Malmberg stated in an email that "the guidelines are over the top and not of this time", yet continued to censor material.