NCERT Books: 1,800 scientists, researchers demand restoration of Darwin’s evolution theory

NCERT Class 10 textbook is missing parts on Charles Darwin’s theory of evaluation critical for developing ‘scientific temper and rational worldview’.

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Charles Darwin's evolution theory is an “integral part of the science syllabus” in Class 10 NCERT books (Picture: Wikimedia Commons)Charles Darwin's evolution theory is an “integral part of the science syllabus” in Class 10 NCERT books (Picture: Wikimedia Commons)

R. Radhika | April 21, 2023 | 12:19 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Breakthrough Science Society, a collective of scientists and researchers across India, has raised concerns over the deleted ‘Theory of Biological Evolution’ from National Council of Educational Training and Research (NCERT) books for Class 10.

Condemning NCERT’s decision, the collective wrote that learning “evolutionary biology is important not just to any subfield of biology, but is also key to understanding the world around us”. In a statement released on Thursday, the collective also stressed on the importance of understanding evolution to build “scientific temper and rational worldview”.

An “integral part of the science syllabus” in Class 10 NCERT books, the society has called for the restoration of Charles Darwin’s evolution theory in secondary education. Appealing against the exclusion of evolution in books, the society has also written an open letter, signed by more than 1,800 scientists, science teachers, educators, and concerned citizens.

In June last year the NCERT rationalised textbooks of Classes 6 to 12 to reduce the content load of students, The new textbooks are being taught in schools in the current academic year.

Also Read| NCERT says 'minor deletions' weren’t notified to avoid confusion

According to the council’s document listing the changes, Chapter 9 in a NCERT Class 10 textbook titled ‘Heredity and Evolution’ has been replaced with ‘Heredity’. The chapter included topics on Charles Robert Darwin, Origin of life on Earth, Molecular Phylogeny, Evolution, Evolution and Classification, Tracing Evolutionary Relationships, Evolution by Stages, and Human Evolution that have now been dropped in the rationalisation process.

Scientists have argued that the “temporary measures” taken during the pandemic are being continued even though schooling has gone back to offline mode.

Here’s the complete text of Breakthrough Science Society’s open letter.

Scientists’ open letter on NCERT books

‘An Appeal Against Exclusion of Evolution from Curriculum’

We, the undersigned, have learned that sweeping changes are being proposed in the CBSE curriculum in the secondary and senior secondary courses. These changes, first introduced as a temporary measure during the Corona pandemic, are being continued even when schooling has gone back to offline mode.

In particular, we are concerned with the exclusion of the teaching of Darwinian evolution from the 10th standard curriculum, as seen in the information (see https://ncert.nic.in/pdf/BookletClass10.pdf, page 21) available on the NCERT website.

In the current educational structure, only a small fraction of students choose the science stream in grade 11 or 12, and an even smaller fraction of those 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 this field.

Also read | 'Sanitised history': Historians from Indian, foreign universities on NCERT textbook revision

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 choose 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. Although many of us do not explicitly realise, the principles of natural selection help us understand how any pandemic progresses or why certain species go extinct, among many other critical issues.

An understanding of the process of evolution is also 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. Depriving students, who do not go on to study biology after the 10th standard, of any exposure to this vitally important field is a travesty of education.

We, the undersigned scientists, science teachers, educators, science popularisers and concerned citizens disagree with such dangerous changes in school science education and demand to restore the theory of Darwinian evolution in secondary education.

Aniket Sule, Mumbai

Ragavendra Gadagkar, Bengaluru

Amitabha Joshi, Bengaluru

LS Shashidhara, Bengaluru

T NC Vidya, Bengaluru

Enakshi Bhattacharya, Chennai

Rahul Siddharthan, Chennai

D Indumathi, Chennai

Amitabha Pandey, Delhi

Ram Ramswamy, Delhi

TV Venkateswaran, Delhi

Anindita Bhadra, Kolkata

Soumitro Bannerjee, Kolkata

S Krishnaswamy, Madurai

NG Prasad, Mohali

Aurnab Ghose, Pune

Satyajeet Rath, Pune

Shraddha Kumbhojkar, Pune

Sudha Rajamani, Pune

Vineeta Bal, Pune and 1800 others

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