A textbook aimed at teaching French to newly-arrived immigrants has stirred controversy in Belgium after it was found to contain references to bomb-throwing and imprisonment, local media reports.
“Papa throws a bomb and goes to jail”, “He threw a bomb and goes to prison” and “He shows me his bomb in prison” were among the sentences used to help teach word pronunciation in an Erasmus textbook used in the Anderlecht municipality of Belgium. The texts were spotted by Catherine Lemaire, a local woman currently hosting an Iraqi refugee.
“Are we really aware that these educational materials are being offered by the host country for inclusivity?” she asked the TV channel RTBF.
Raad, the Iraqi refugee staying with Lemaire, who at first didn’t know what the words meant, was upset when he finally found out.
“When I was translated the sentence, I was surprised,” he said. “I did not like those words because we suffered a lot in Iraq, bombs, car bombs. I don’t know what to say and I’m really sad.”
The book, written three years ago, is part of the curriculum for a Level 2 literacy course taught as part of the Erasmus Social Promotion course.
Bernard Delecluse, the director of the Erasmus Center in Anderlecht, told RTBF he was “shocked and surprised” and admitted the “mistake.”
Delecluse said he’d contacted the teaching staff to find out who was responsible, but did not want the entire team of 40 professors, who work with 2,500 students, to be blamed.
“As a director I have 40 teachers. It is impossible to redo the syllabus every year and check the educational materials from everyone here,” he explained.
But, he added, “the effort will be made anyway so that this kind of thing does not appear any longer”.
Education minister Isabelle Simonis said she was “shocked to learn the existence of the words expressed in this teaching manual” and called for an investigation.
“There are a multitude of sentences in the French language that would have done just as well,” she said.