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President recommends more effective procedures for screening schoolbooks

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President Nicos Anastasiades suggested more effective procedures to be put in place at the education ministry after teachers were told to “tear out” a page from a textbook with a reference to the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Anastasiades met Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou on Tuesday and was briefed about the matter that sparked a furore last week.

A presidency statement said the president was satisfied with the briefing and “recommended more effective procedures” to be put in place.

The minister informed the president about the “unfortunate incident but also the unacceptable way it was initially handled with the instruction to remove the page” from the book.

“To determine the real events, the education minister has already ordered a probe into the management of the problem,” the statement said.

Prodromou, whom sources have said was the one who gave the instruction to tear out the page, said that he did not agree with such methods, but from now on stricter procedures will be followed in evaluating books used in schools, “bases on contemporary perceptions and what befits a European state.”

The minister has refused to take responsibility over the debacle. On Tuesday, speaking on Politis radio, he said the book has been withdrawn so the issue was closed.

He went on to blame the reactions on teachers from the Left and those supporting main opposition Akel.

Last week, Anastasiades said he wanted to speak to the minister because “I am interested in how a problem is tackled, which, in the 21st century may need a different handling. I will have a meeting with the education minister to discuss how we handle an issue that could have been handled in another way.”

The page in question contains a reference to Ataturk, the first president of the newly formed Turkish Republic one century ago, in an exercise called ‘Turkey’s greatest hero’. It also has an exercise about the famous Mexican communist artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera.

Following the strong reactions, the ministry appeared to make things worse with a statement announcing the book’s withdrawal.

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