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Science community slams NCERT’s move to delete Darwin’s theory of evolution from books: ‘Travesty of education’

New Delhi: Claiming that the removal of a significant chapter from science textbooks “is a travesty of education”, over 1,800 scientists, teachers, educators and science popularisers across the country have written an open letter criticising the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT) latest move to remove Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution from classes 9 and 10 textbooks.

A press release dated 20 April by the Breakthrough Science Society includes a letter titled ‘An Appeal Against Exclusion of Evolution from Curriculum’, with signatories from prominent science institutions in the country, like Indian Institute of Science, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Indian Institute of Technology.

“The scientific community feels that students will remain seriously handicapped in their thought processes if deprived of exposure to this fundamental discovery of science,” the letter said.

Explaining the relevance of the theory, the letter added, “The fact that the biological world is constantly changing, that evolution is a law-governed process that does not require divine intervention, and that humans have evolved from some species of ape have been the cornerstones of rational thinking ever since Darwin proposed his theory of natural selection.”

The removal of content and significant chapters came as a part of a rationalisation exercise conducted by NCERT, the government body that’s mandated with advising the Central and state governments on policies and programmes for school education, to reduce the syllabus burden on students after Covid-19.

According to a document by NCERT, on the list of rationalised content in textbooks for class 10, chapter 9 of the science textbook, earlier titled ‘Heredity and Evolution’, has been replaced with ‘Heredity’.

“An understanding of the process of evolution is crucial in building a scientific temper and a rational worldview. The way Darwin’s painstaking observations and his keen insights led him to the theory of natural selection, educates students about the process of science and the importance of critical thinking,” read the letter.

It added that depriving students who do not go on to study biology after class 10 of any exposure to this vitally important field “is a travesty of education”.

Scientists and academics have argued that the “temporary measures” taken during the pandemic are being continued even though students have returned to schools.

Also Read: NCERT textbooks can’t create a secular student. If they did, BJP wouldn’t be in power

Previous deletions 

The rationalisation by NCERT has brought criticism from subject experts in several fields.

Previously historians had objected to the removal of several important events like the Mughal rule, Gujarat Riots 2002, from history textbooks. NCERT was also criticised for not informing removal of the above-mentioned topics.

In an open statement issued earlier this month, historians criticised NCERT’s move to delete chapters from textbooks and said, “As such, removing chapters/sections of chapters is highly problematic not only in terms of depriving learners of valuable content but also in terms of the pedagogical values required to equip them to meet present and future challenges.”

Defending the “minor removals” in the school textbooks, the school education regulator in a statement Monday,  said the deleted portions were not included in the official list of deletions announced last year because “minor deletions” are not notified to avoid confusion among teachers and students.

“The NCERT firmly stands on its version that nothing has been removed or deleted after rationalisation undertaken in academic session 2022-2023,” it added.

(Edited by Richa Mishra)

Also Read: NCERT textbook development panel upset by deletions: ‘Hindu Right axed portions they’re uncomfortable with’

Source: The Print

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