Wednesday 30 November 2022

Jefte has a great sense of rhythm, but is he an ‘allochtoon’?

A Dutch educational publisher has come under fire for producing a primary school exercise in which children are asked to decide if someone is a native or non-native.

The exercise is aimed at 10-year-old children and asks them to tick a box to indicate if someone is an allochtoon or autochtoon or potentially both.

The statements include phrases such as ‘Fatima prefers to listen to Dutch songs’ , Michael has rasta hair’ and ‘Jefte has a great sense of rhythm’.

Publishing house Malberg has defended the project, saying the aim is to make it clear to children that the words allochtoon and autochtoon relate to the place where people are born. The definition is based on the Van Dale junior dictionary, the publisher says.


However, as many commenters on the publisher’s Facebook page point out, children are still officially classed as allochtoon if one or both parents is born abroad and that the definition in the exercise is wrong.

In addition, use of the word is being phased out by several government agencies because it is now widely perceived to have a stigma attached.

‘How sad that primary school children are being asked to categorise people,’ said one commentor.

Malmberg said it has yet to decide if the exercise will be included in future editions of the book.

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