A school test that asked students to analyse a piece of writing without revealing it was Nazi apologist text has led to a shake up in leadership within the Austrian education authorities.
The mistake was leaked by a group of critical authors, including Salzburg educator Wolfgang Muehlbacher who said that the 1947 text ‘The Snail’ by Nazi propagandist Manfred Hausmann is read by some Nazi’s as an argument to absolve them from responsibility.
The text itself discusses a farmer decision to kill a snail so he can save his plants, which students were asked to think about and discuss – although it is likely most would have been unaware of the context of the tale.
Now the heads of independent organisation BIFIE who are responsible for the content of school testing are set to step down this summer, according to Education Minister Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek who called for “less heads in the clouds and more feet firmly on the ground”.
The inclusion of the text as in test is an embarrassment that follows earlier mistakes made by BIFIE, for example with conveying a new scale for assessing and grading students.
The recent mistakes have also added to calls for Austria to dedicate more time on academic education of students, as well as the vocational training which the country has traditionally done well in.