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Report Criticizes Districts' Policies on South Africa

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A number of school boards, libraries, and city councils have implemented such policies as part of a cultural boycott to protest the system of apartheid, or racial separation, the report notes. At least 41 jurisdictions have such policies in place, according to the American Committee on Africa, an anti-apartheid group based in New York City.

In a 1988 resolution, the publishers' association noted that such efforts had a "laudable objective," but warned that they could "play into the hands" of those the districts wish to condemn. (See Education Week, Feb. 3, 1988.)

In fact, the boycotts have had exactly that effect, conclude the report's authors, a biracial team consisting of a leading publisher and a library-school dean.

Books Generally Unavailable

In conversations with more than 75 representatives of South African educational, cultural, and publishing groups, the authors found that U.S. nonfiction books and educational materials are "generally unavailable to South Africans in schools, libraries and bookstores."

As a result, they state, "an even poorer education is being provided to those who need it most."

"With the government spending five times more on education for whites than blacks," the report states, "the book boycott weakens the meager alternative resources for blacks."

"For these and similar reasons," the authors conclude, "all of the persons with whom we spoke, even those who support economic sanctions and the general cultural boycott as it affects athletic contests and rock concerts, oppose the boycott on books."--rr

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