Restore Darwin's Evolution Theory, Scientists, Educators Tell NCERT

According to a document released by NCERT on the list of rationalised content in textbooks for class X, Chapter: 9 Heredity and Evolution has been replaced with Heredity

Protest against alleged saffronisation of textbooks

Over 1,800 scientists, science teachers and educators have signed an open letter raising concerns regarding NCERT's decision to drop the theory of biological evolution from the science syllabus in Class X curriculum of the CBSE. They demanded that the theory of Darwinian evolution in particular be restored in secondary education.

"In the current educational structure, only a small fraction of students choose the science stream in grade XI or XII, 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," the letter titled 'An Appeal Against Exclusion of Evolution from Curriculum' said.

The signatories who are from noted institutions such as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and IITs, among others, also said that 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.

"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," they said.

They further said that 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," the letter said.

According to a document released by NCERT on the list of rationalised content in textbooks for class X, Chapter: 9 'Heredity and Evolution' has been replaced with 'Heredity'. Among the list of dropped chapters are Charles Robert Darwin, Origin of life on Earth, Molecular Phylogeny, Evolution, Tracing Evolutionary Relationships and Human Evolution among others. 

Earlier, the NCERT removed references to freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, who was India’s first education minister, in its latest syllabus revision for the new class 11 political science textbook, drawing criticism from certain sections of society. 

As part of its "syllabus rationalisation" exercise last year, the NCERT has dropped certain portions from the course including lessons on Gujarat riots, Mughal courts, the Emergency, Cold War, Naxalite movement, among others from its textbooks. The organisation cited "overlapping" and "irrelevant" as reasons for the decision.

The rationalisation note had no mention of any changes in Class 11 political science textbook. The NCERT also claimed that no curriculum trimming has taken place this year and the syllabus was rationalised in June last year. 

Activists of Kerala Students Union (KSU) protested too at the Accountant Generals office against the alleged Sangh Parivars attempt to saffronise school textbooks, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Outlook's July 2022 magazine issue titled 'Errors, Ommissions, Insertions' looked at the syllabus rationalisation process by NCERT in the context of politicisation of history and the politics of exclusion.