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The Three Little Cowboy Builders

Eddie Mair | 17:57 UK time, Wednesday, 23 January 2008

What do you think? Please add your comment.

Here's how PA reported it:

A children's story based on the Three Little Pigs was rejected for a
Government-backed award after judges became concerned it would offend Muslims.
The animated virtual book for primary school children - The Three Little Cowboy
Builders - was also criticised for its potential to offend builders.
The row centred on the Bett awards, which were backed by Becta, the
Government's technology agency for schools.
The judges' remarks, reported on the education technology website Merlin John
Online, included: "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their
work blown down, and builders are like pigs?
"The idea of taking a traditional tale and retelling a story is fine, but it
should not alienate parts of the workforce (building trade).
"Judges would not recommend this product to the Muslim community in
particular."
Ann Curtis, whose company Shoo Fly Publishing produced the CD-Rom, said the
criticisms were unjustified and could even "propagate a racist stance".
She said: "I felt disbelief, to be honest.
"As a small company, we have a strong ethical and moral grounding.
"We support the rights of all children in the world to have access to
education.
"To be told that we cynically set out to alienate minority groups is a very
narrow-minded view that I'm sure does not represent the general view in the
country."
Ms Curtis said the group had received messages of support from the local
community, including Muslims.
The book had already won an award in a separate competition.
But the Bett award's backers - Becta, the Besa trade association and EMAP
Education - said the book was rejected for a range of reasons.
In a joint statement, they said: "The reason The Three Little Cowboy Builders,
from Shoo Fly Publishing, was not shortlisted was that it failed to reach the
required standard across a number of criteria.
"The feedback makes clear that the issues highlighted were a small selection
from a much broader range of comments.
"In particular, the product was not sufficiently convincing on curriculum and
innovation grounds to be shortlisted.
"There was a very high standard of entries to this year's awards and four
high-quality products were eventually shortlisted in this category."
The statement said the competition aimed to "reward inclusive and accessible
designs" and was judged by a panel of 70 people, including many teachers.
"The Bett awards are designed to represent the values and requirements of the
teaching community and the education sector as a whole.
"To this end the awards are judged by teachers and others involved within the
education sector and their views are transparently reflected as a part of the
judging process."

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