Written Answers. - School Textbooks.

582.

asked the Minister for Education if she has secured agreement with the educational publishers in relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sex stereotyping from school textbooks; and if she will state the following: (a) if the publishers participated in the drawing-up of those guidelines; (b) if any groups outside of her Department participated in drawing up those guidelines; (c) if any outside consultants were utilised in drawing up those guidelines; and if so, if she will identify them; (d) the means by which she has secured agreement; and if agreement is in writing or if a verbal promise has been made and if she will identify the names of publishers whose agreement has been secured.

Agreement has been secured with the educational publishers in relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sexism and sex stereotyping from primary school textbooks.

(a) The draft guidelines were drawn up by my Department and submitted to the publishers in advance of agreement.

(b) No other groups outside of my Department participated in the drawing up of these guidelines.

(c) No outside consultants were utilised.

(d) Agreement was secured by meeting with representatives of the Irish Educational Publishers Association acting on behalf of their members and verbal agreement was reached.

583.

asked the Minister for Education in relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sex stereotyping from school textbooks if she will give the following information: (1) the source of the words within quotation marks in paragraphs 1.4.1 and 1.4.2; (2) the source of the definitions given in paragraphs 1.4.1 through 1.4.3; (3) who does the rejecting mentioned in the first sentence of paragraph 2.4; (4) the evidence which exists to support the statement in paragraph 4 that few educationists would disagree; (5) if the term educationist applies only to persons employed in educational industries or if it also includes parents as educators of their children; and (6) if her Department can identify any dictionary of standard usage in Ireland in which the word "chairman" limits the role to a male.

In relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sexism and sex stereotyping from school textbooks the following is the information requested by the Deputy:

(1) A Dictionary of Reading (and related terms) (International Reading Association, 1981).

(2) ibid.

(3) It is an assumption by my Department that readers generally would reject truly sexist material.

(4) With regard to the statement "few educationists would disagree" in para. 2.1 of the guidelines this is an expression of view based on the experience of my Department.

(5) The term "educationists" used in connection with para. 2.1 of the guidelines is intended to mean those who engage in education as a professional activity as distinct from a parental duty.

(6) What is at issue in the guidelines is not a dictionary definition but rather the impression conveyed to children by the nature of the exclusive use of the word "chairman".

584.

asked the Minister for Education in relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sex stereotyping from school textbooks if it is her or her Department's position that the sentence "He pronounced them man and wife" is sexist or constitutes sex stereotyping, if footnote 3 effectively incorporates the Publication Manual of the American psychological association into the guidelines; if not, the relationship this manual has to the guidelines; and if editors are expected to be familiar with it when editing to meet these guidelines; if she will define the word "balance" within the context of paragraph 3.4 if balance should reflect the real world frequency with which persons are employed in so-called "non-traditional" careers or if balance should reflect some other picture such as one which merely portrays the realm of possibilities; if she will define the phrase "changing family patterns" as used in paragraph 3.5; and in paragraph 4.2, if answers "occasionally" or "rarely" to questions 4 and 5 are considered positively or negatively for purposes of evaluation for conformity with these guidelines.

In relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sexism and sex stereotyping from primary school textbooks my own and my Department's position with regard to the sentence "He pronounced them man and wife" is that it does not reflect as balanced a treatment of the sexes in relation to marriage as would a sentence such as "He pronounced them husband and wife", footnote 3 is a reference, normal to a document of this kind, intended to assist editors in extending their familiarity with the type of usage referred to in paragraph 3.2 and does not effectively incorporate the Publication Manual of the American psychological association into the guidelines; "balance" within the context of paragraph 3.4 of the guidelines means the opposite to "imbalance" with which the guidelines are concerned and as such is closer to the first rather than to the second formulation in the question; "changing family patterns" as used in paragraph 3.5 of the guidelines relates to those aspects of family life which would normally be portrayed in primary school textbooks specific examples of which might include mothers at work outside the home, fathers engaged in domestic activities etc. The general tendency should be to show a greater sharing of all family activities than was traditionally shown; "Occasionally" and "rarely" are not considered either positively or negatively, they are merely markers on a notional scale and it would be a matter for those using the scale to devise criteria and definitions for these terms in the light of the evaluation in hand.

585.

asked the Minister for Education in relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sex stereotyping from school textbooks if submissions were sought from the public prior to the formulation of these guidelines; if so, how public comments were solicited; and the mechanism she has established to oversee the extent to which publishers do or do not conform to the guidelines.

In relation to the guidelines aimed at eliminating sexism and sex stereotyping from primary school textbooks no submissions were sought from the public prior to the formulation of the guidelines and no public comment was solicited; the mechanism established to oversee the extent to which the publishers do or do not conform to the guidelines is contained within the Department's procedures for the approval of textbooks for inclusion in official lists published under Rule 66 of the Rules for National Schools.