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Scientists criticise NCERT’s decision to axe theory of evolution

April 21, 2023

Mita Mukherjee

Scientists and science teachers across India have criticised the recent decision of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) to remove the teaching of biological theory of evolution from Class X syllabus.

In a statement issued by Breakthrough Science Society, a Kolkata-Based organisation of scientists, science teachers, educators and science popularisers have described the shift as “dangerous changes” for school science education. Nearly 1800 scientists and teachers who signed the statement said they disagreed with “such dangerous changes” and demanded the restoration of the teaching of theory of evolution in secondary school science education.

“ 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 statement said.

They demanded that the theory should be taught with “adequate importance” in 9th and 10th standards.

“ Knowledge and understanding of evolutionary biology is important not just to any subfield of biology, but is also key to understanding the world around us.  Evolutionary biology is an area of science with a huge impact on how we chose to deal with an array of problems we face as societies and nations from medicine and drug discovery, epidemiology, ecology and environment, to psychology, and it also addresses our understanding of humans and their place in the tapestry of life,” the statement added.

The NCERT curriculum is followed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and 15 other school education boards in the country.

The topics were first dropped as an interim measure for syllabus reduction during the Corona pandemic. But the NCERT document states that the topics are dropped permanently as a step to rationalise the syllabus, according to the statement.

In the current educational structure, only a small fraction of students choose the science stream in grade 11 or 12, and an even smaller number of students choose biology as one of the subjects of study. “ Thus, the exclusion of key concepts from the curriculum till grade 10 amounts to a vast majority of students missing a critical part of essential learning in the field…….Depriving students, who do not go on to study biology after the 10th standard, of any exposure to this vitally important fiend is a travesty of education,” the statement said.

 Some of the topics that have been dropped include those on Charles Darwin, evolution, the origin of life, evolutionary relationships and fossils and human evolution.

Nearly a week ago the NCERT had omitted chapters on the Mughal Empire from Class XII history textbooks, erupting a controversy.

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