SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Korea Bizwire) – The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRC) has criticized the creators of elementary school textbooks for subtle job discrimination.
Some of the content contained in the textbooks for lower grade elementary school students includes discriminatory descriptions of certain laborers, including firefighters, according to the NHRC on Monday.
The NHRC discovered during the investigation process last year that the autumn edition of the textbook for second graders used informal words like ‘ajumma’ and ‘ajeossi’ to describe firefighters, police officers, cafeteria staff and hair dressers, while doctors were addressed using honorifics.
The commission also took issue with children with multicultural backgrounds not taking main roles in the artwork used in the textbooks.
For instance, in the spring edition of the official textbook for second graders, a student from a multicultural household looks up with envy at an Asian-looking student who is learning taekwondo.
In most cases, characters with multicultural backgrounds take supporting roles, and often do not participate in dialogue, whereas presumably South Korean characters take leading roles.
When it comes to the representation of people with disabilities, the NHRC said that characters who are disabled in the textbooks were always described as objects of consideration, and not independent individuals, expressing concerns over stereotypes.
“The current textbooks reflect human rights efforts to tackle stereotypes surrounding gender roles and gender-based prejudice. However, instead of approaching the issue of members of socially marginalized groups from the charitable perspective, a new direction needs to be pursued to ensure their rights,” the NHRC said.
The NHRC is set to hold a meeting for publishers, education officials and writers involved in textbook development at the education center in Jung District in Seoul today, during which findings from the monitoring process last year will be made public.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)