The West Bengal government on Thursday suspended two teachers of a government-aided school in East Burdwan district for allegedly instilling prejudices into the minds of students, reported PTI. They had allegedly used an English textbook for teaching alphabets to pre-primary students that indicated U for ‘ugly’ and the accompanying illustration was that of a black man.

The state government said the book was not a part of their recommendation. “It was introduced by the school itself,” said Education Minister Partha Chatterjee. “We have zero tolerance for acts which instill prejudices into the minds of students.”

Chatterjee added that stricter action would be taken against the teachers later. The school is now closed because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The book is published by a private publisher named ‘Bani Prakashan’, reported Times Now. The school has been asked to withdraw it immediately. “All government-aided schools have been warned of strong penalty in the future if they violate government advisories or booklist,” said Chatterjee.

The father of a student was first to notice it. He informed other parents and then eventually the education department was apprised, according to PTI. “I had raised the matter with teacher in charge of the primary section,” one of the parents told Times Now. “The teacher in charge was equally shocked. He said he will look into it. This book should be recalled immediately. It glorifies colourism and it will promote discrimination and further polarisation. I don’t want my daughter to learn such ideas.”

This comes at a time when there is a global debate on racism following the death of Geoge Floyd in Minneapolis in the USA.

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