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Lithuania: Textbook Calls Peace Corps Volunteers 'Spies'

Vilnius, 24 June 1998 (RFE/RL) -- A textbook still used in Lithuania's classrooms refers to U.S. Peace Corps volunteers as spies, whose aim is "ideological expansion."

The 1995 textbook was written by 55-year-old Alma Stasiuleviciute, a Vilnius Pedagogical University lecturer. It was published in Kaunas by the "Sviesa" publishing house in 1990. The 1995 edition is a second printing.

The English-language textbook consists of selected readings for 12th graders, including excerpts from stories such as "Love Story" and short discussions about Ivy League Universities, just to name a few topics.

The Peace Corps reference appears on page 38 of the textbook, and introduces the organization in a few sentences. Then, the second paragraph goes on to state that the "real aim" of the Peace Corps "is neo-colonialist, economic, political and ideological expansion." Further it states that, when the real aim was uncovered, "many governments sent it away from their countries and a lot of honest Americans left the organization."

Lithuania's Education Ministry official Rimas Kareckas, who heads the Ministry's publishing center, laughed, when asked about the Peace Corps reference. However, he stopped laughing, when he realized that the textbook was still being used by pupils in Lithuania today. "This is not a pretty fact for the ministry," he said, and, then added he would look into the matter.

Education Ministry curriculum development head Loreta Zadeikaite said the textbook in question, a second printing, was never evaluated by the Ministry. Reprinted editions have only come to be evaluated by the ministry beginning in 1996. Zadeikaite said the "Sviesa" publishing house, at the request of area schools, decided to go ahead and issue a second edition of the textbook, without contacting the ministry.

However, a third edition, now being prepared for printing, will definitely delete the passages and be rewritten, Zadeikaite said. That edition will be published this year, she said.

Zadeikaite said one had to live in Lithuania "to understand the situation in 1989," when the textbook's first edition was being prepared for publication.

Author Stasiuleviciute now is head of the religion department at the Vilniaus Pedagogical University, according to Zadeikaite.

Stasiuleviciute was a prominent textbook writer during the Communist period, and wrote six English-language textbooks from 1981-1987, for 5th- to 10th-grade classes.

Zadeikaite appeared somewhat embarrassed by the episode, and several times praised Peace Corps volunteers, and said they had helped the Ministry a great deal in its endeavors.