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July 11, 2017 3:06 pm

Ontario Ministry of Education Corrects Elementary School Textbook That Named Israel as Country Using ‘Child Soldiers’

avatar by Rachel Frommer

The line in a Canadian elementary school textbook including Israel in a list of countries where child soldiers have been used. Photo: Screenshot via B’nai Brith Canada.

The Ontario Ministry of Education has been working to correct an elementary school textbook used in hundreds of school which named Israel as one of the countries where “child soldiers” have been deployed.

In a statement to The Algemeiner, the ministry said about the sixth-grade textbook, titled Canada and the Global Community and used in some 800 schools:

The Ministry of Education takes the correctness and accuracy of information provided in learning resources very seriously. We continue to work collaboratively with [publisher] Nelson Education. The publisher is taking steps to correct the error including destroying the current inventory of the textbook, reprinting the error page on the new stock for the upcoming school year, notifying schools about the situation and is in the process of sending a replacement sticker (to cover the error on the page in the textbook).

According to the statement, “The replacement sticker blocks the old text and replaces it with new revised text that excludes Israel from the list of the mentioned countries.”

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The reference to Israel comes in a chapter about human rights, and reads: “Since the year 2000, child soldiers have been used in armed conflicts in more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mali, and Yemen.”

Jessica Mosher, the senior vice president and managing director of  Nelson, told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) contacted her organization in March about the textbook. The two groups have been working together since then on the issue.

“We’ve destroyed all the stock and repurposed with the corrected page,” she said. “We sent out a letter of explanation to the schools, and a replacement sticker.”

“The accompanying teacher’s resource clarified, but the textbook was very ambiguous,” Mosher added. “In the resource, it explained that not at all sides in every country child soldiers, and for example in Israel soldiers have to be at least 18 [years old].”

Mosher said this was the first time Nelson had ever received a complaint about Israel-related content in any of its textbooks.

She also expressed surprise that Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada, which spoke with Nelson in June about the issue, released a statement late last week slamming the ministry and Nelson for its handling of the textbook situation.

“We thought it was resolved in March,” said Mosher.

FSWC released a statement on Monday applauding Nelson for taking “responsibility and a proactive and corrective approach,” and the education company’s staff for being “continuously sincere and responsive.”

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, called on the ministry last week to not only correct the textbook, “but to teach the reality of the situation — that it is Palestinian leaders who use child soldiers.”

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