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Schools books showing Crimea as part of Russia will be recalled

The map shows Crimea marked in green, as part of Russia, rather than in yellow as part of Ukraine.
The map shows Crimea marked in green, as part of Russia, rather than in yellow as part of Ukraine. Source: Madis Hindre/ERR

More than 5,000 English language textbooks featuring a map showing Crimea as part of Russia will be recalled from Estonian schools and corrected. The books have been used by 200 schools across the country for the last two years.

The error had gone unnoticed until last week Ukrainian Congress of Estonia turned to Studium Publishing House and the Ministry of Education and Research. The book is called "I Love English".

The map shows Crimea marked in green, as part of Russia, rather than in yellow as Ukrainian territory.

The chairwoman of the congress Vira Konyk said: "Students in Estonian schools are being given false information about Ukraine and the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state is ignored."

She said the error was discovered by a member of the Ukrainian community in Estonia whose son was using the textbook in class. The family then turned to the congress.

Konyk said: "We were also very surprised by this situation, since Estonia is a long-standing and reliable partner of Ukraine and constantly confirms this, supporting Ukraine in the international arena and providing it with various other assistance."

The ministry has instructed the published to recall the books and correct the map. Estonia does not recognize the occupation and annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Russia occupied the territory six years ago.

The map from "I Love English". Source: Madis Hindre/ERR

Liina Põld, Head of the General Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Research, said the publisher must correct the error.

"The textbook must correspond to the national curriculum as well as to the acquisition of general learning competencies. This includes everything related to values, the country's accepted political position on the treatment of our neighboring countries or our entire value system," Põld said.

Põld stressed Crimea is part of Ukraine. 

Aavo Kennik, the director of the publishing house, agreed and promised the textbooks would be reprinted. He said it had been a mistake and no one had complained before.

The front cover of 'I Love English' Source: Congress of Ukrainians in Estonia.

He said the map was found as free software on Wikimedia and fitted the task in the book. "Since in this case we are talking about a language textbook, we did not attach any importance to the contents of the map, either geographically or politically," he said.

If all the books need to be totally reprinted it will cost between €10-20,000, he estimated, and hoped this would not have to happen. "It would be very expensive, and the other thing, I'm convinced of, it would be a very disproportionate response," Kennik said.

It is most likely that the map will be overlaid with a new one. Kennik said the changes will be made during the summer holidays and before the start of the new school year.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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