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Think Outside The Box

UK school removes workbook after objections to portrayal of Hinduism

A school in England has apologised and removed a workbook from its website following protests from several parents and British Hindu organisations over a reference to terrorism within a section on Hinduism.

Langley School in Solihull, in the West Midlands region of England, said on Wednesday that the document, ‘GCSE Religious Studies: Religion Peace and Conflict Workbook’, was purchased externally a few years ago and has now been removed from circulation.

“Unfortunately, this document was purchased externally several years ago and not produced by our staff at our school. We can assure you that it is not used in school,” Langley School said in a statement.

“The resource was immediately removed from our website. We apologise for any offence caused,” it said.

The workbook, which falls under the Religious Studies module for GCSE Year 10-11 stage pupils aged around 15, had a stamp that reflected an official clearance by the examinations authority for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, AQA.

“We didn’t produce the workbook that’s been shared on social media and our logo was used on it without our permission,” said an AQA spokesperson.

“Some of the material in it seems to have come from a textbook – we’ve spoken to the publisher, which has withdrawn the book from sale while it addresses the issue,” said the spokesperson.

Angry parents and Hindu groups had taken to social media and highlighted segments of the text, which made references to the ‘Mahabharata’ and war being justified in order to “preserve dharma”.

Hindu Council UK said it had received a complaint from a father, who sent screenshots from a book his son was using in Cumbria in north-west England, and written to the school authorities urging an investigation.

“Happy to see action being taken. However, sadly this workbook is in use by many schools in England and now will create false image of Hinduism in young minds,” Hindu Council UK said in a statement.

Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB), another umbrella organisation, issued a letter to AQA and called for action.

“The statement regarding Hinduism in the section on ‘Religious beliefs, teachings, and attitudes about the meaning and significance of justice’ on page 4 is completely misrepresented, vexatious, inaccurate and meant to teach wrong beliefs about Hindus to impressionable children,” read the letter by HFB Chair of Religious Education Dr Ramesh Pattni, addressed to the AQA Board.

“We suspect that there may be a political agenda behind how Hindu beliefs and practices have been portrayed in your workbook, especially in relation to another religion,” the letter added.

The controversial text used within the workbook seems to have been copied from a textbook published by Hodder, which has since been withdrawn from sale.