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HomeFact CheckViralChapters On 'Periodic Table' And 'Evolution' Completely Removed From NCERT Syllabus?

Chapters On ‘Periodic Table’ And ‘Evolution’ Completely Removed From NCERT Syllabus?

Authors

An enthusiastic journalist, researcher and fact-checker, Shubham believes in maintaining the sanctity of facts and wants to create awareness about misinformation and its perils. Shubham has studied Mathematics at the Banaras Hindu University and holds a diploma in Hindi Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. He has worked in The Print, UNI and Inshorts before joining Newschecker.

The recent revisions in the school curriculum by the National Council of Educational Research (NCERT) have triggered a massive uproar on social media, with many, including famous British biologist Richard Dawkins, criticising the decision to remove the periodic table and Darwin’s evolution theory from class 9 and 10 textbooks.

Tweeting a screengrab of the article published by Nature, Dawkins took a jibe at the Modi government last Wednesday, writing, “Modi’s BJP is a tragic affront to India’s secular beginnings. Hinduism is at least as ridiculous as Islam. Between them, these two idiotic religions have betrayed the ideals of Nehru and Gandhi.” 

The issue has been simmering since April when over 1800 scientists objected to the NCERT move. Following his tweet, Dawkins came under harsh criticism from a number of journalists and social media users including the chief editor of the news organisation ANI, Smita Prakash, who wrote, “Check your facts. Don’t rely on SM chatter. Never thought I would say this to a scientist someday.”

Prakash and other users who attacked Dawkins were referring to the apparent misleading title given by Nature, which made it appear as though the topics would be removed from school textbooks entirely, as opposed to the fact that they were only being removed from text books of class 9 and 10. 

Many other users and media houses also ended up adding to the confusion, by misreporting on the issue. A post by ‘The Swaddle‘, for instance, on their official Instagram account states that NCERT has removed the periodic table and the chapters of evolution from its syllabus, and would affect students between ages of 11 to 18.

Courtesy: Instagram/The Swaaddle

The NCERT hit out at such reports, calling them ‘misleading’. 

What Exactly Has The NCERT Dropped In The New Syllabus?

The article published in Nature, which was also shared by Richard Dawkins in his tweet, specifies that the chapter on the Periodic Table has been dropped from the NCERT class 10th syllabus, which is typically studied by children between ages of 15 and 16. It further adds that the chapter on Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the Origin of Life on Earth, and Human Evolution have also been taken off the NCERT’s Class 10 syllabus. The chapter formerly known as “Evolution and Heredity” has been changed to “Heredity.”

Courtesy: The Nature

A list of curriculum modifications from classes 6 to 12 uploaded on the NCERT website shows that Darwin’s theory is now covered in the 12th-grade curriculum, and the periodic table in the 11th-grade curriculum. 

What Prompted NCERT To Make This Decision?

NCERT has explained the “syllabus rationalisation” behind this move. In a tweet dated June 1, 2023, the NCERT clarified that the move to ‘rationalise’ the syllabus was taken during the Coronavirus pandemic. It further said that the chapters on the periodic table and evolution are still included in the school curriculum and that students enrolled in the science stream will be able to read these chapters in depth in the books for classes 11 and 12.

Courtesy: Twitter@NCERT

As per the India Today reports, Numerous issues arose in the area of education during the Covid-19 outbreak, as a result, of which the NCERT placed a strong emphasis on the process of rationalising the curriculum from December 2021 to June 2022. Its purpose was to make distance learning easier and less onerous for students. During this time, the curriculum for classes 6 through 12 was reduced by about 30%. The chapters were temporarily removed from the curriculum during the pandemic years, but it was later decided that they would be permanently deleted from the Class 10 syllabus.

Outcry Over Removal Of Chapters From NCERT Syllabus

The decision to remove chapters from the NCERT syllabus has been contested by many education professionals across the nation. As per Indian Express report, Breakthrough Science Society has issued an open letter titled  ‘An Appeal Against Exclusion of Evolution from Curriculum’ to the NCERT last month.
The letter has been signed by over 1,800 scientists, science teachers and educators. These include researchers from organisations like the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and IITs. 

In their letter to the NCERT, they called for Darwin’s theory of evolution to be reinstated in secondary education.

Ex-NCERT Director: There Was a Great Need To Rationalise The Syllabus

However, many, like former NCERT Director JS Rajput have pointed out the need to rationalize the syllabus. Speaking to NDTV, Rajput said, “There is a great need that I know as a person working in education for the last six decades- the syllabus has to be rationalised. It has to be changed. Textbooks have to be rewritten and most importantly you have to see how children are reacting.

“You have to also see the relevance of the periodic table. I did my doctorate in physics and I am doing something in life where I hardly use a periodic table anywhere. How many children who drop out after class 10th need to remember which particular element exists at which particular number … in which column, and in which row of the periodic table? My simple advice is that whatever NCERT does should be seen academically and professionally.”

Minister: Students Can Learn Evolution From Websites If They Want

Meanwhile, the government sees the controversy as a part of a ‘propaganda’. Speaking to ANI on the letter written by 1,800 scientists, Minister of State for Education Subhash Sarkar said, “There is false propaganda about the removal of Darwin’s theory from the NCERT Class 10 syllabus.”

“This choice has been made in an effort to lessen the academic strain that the Covid outbreak has placed on the students. There are plenty of websites where students can read about Darwin’s theory. In addition to this, Darwin’s theory is also included in the class 12 curriculum. People should refrain from spreading incorrect information about the modifications to the curriculum in such circumstances,” Sarkar stated.

The argument that students can learn the subjects dropped from the curriculum from the NCERT website, has not gone down well with many.

Educators: Need To Develop Scientific Temperament Among Secondary School Students

Speaking to Newschecker, Dr. Amitabh Pandey, educator and one of the signatories of the letter by Breakthrough Society, said, “If the government designs a syllabus, then it is its responsibility to take opinion from science teachers, experts, and experts. If left to study on our own, we will read everything. Then what will be the importance of the syllabus.”

“An educated person should know language and basic mathematics, he should have a basic understanding of things. 10th standard develops a basic understanding. If they remain illiterate then they will become fatal for the society. The periodic table is an important part. It also tells about the special properties of a particular element, its similarity with other elements. It is important to know all this.

“Similarly, no one has created Darwin’s theory. This nature decides which animal will survive in which way, not by any God. It has had a gradual development. It is important to understand these things. This scientific temperament should be developed among the students of class 10th. The most important message is that all the living beings in the world have only one beginning. It is necessary to explain this to the people.”

Stressing the importance of having Darwin’s theory in the secondary school curriculum, Pandey further stated, “Apart from this, many types of social evils keep going on around us in our society, to counter which we have to do scientific temperament development. We have to understand that the world is run by physical law and not by any divine. If the children go out, they will face problems because they have not read Darwin’s theory.”

Our Sources
Report Published at The Nature on May 31, 2023
Tweet by NCERT on June 1, 2023
Report Published by India Today on June 1, 2023
List of Rationalised Content on the NCERT Website


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Authors

An enthusiastic journalist, researcher and fact-checker, Shubham believes in maintaining the sanctity of facts and wants to create awareness about misinformation and its perils. Shubham has studied Mathematics at the Banaras Hindu University and holds a diploma in Hindi Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. He has worked in The Print, UNI and Inshorts before joining Newschecker.

Shubham Singh
Shubham Singh
An enthusiastic journalist, researcher and fact-checker, Shubham believes in maintaining the sanctity of facts and wants to create awareness about misinformation and its perils. Shubham has studied Mathematics at the Banaras Hindu University and holds a diploma in Hindi Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. He has worked in The Print, UNI and Inshorts before joining Newschecker.

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