NCERT has courted controversy in the last couple of months
A group of over 1,800 scientists and teachers have objected to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) dropping Charles Darwin’s ‘Theory of Biological Evolution’ from its Class X textbook and urged the Centre to restore the chapter.
Days after Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar dissociated themselves from NCERT’s political science textbooks over deletion of some portions, 33 more academics on Wednesday asked the Council to drop their names from the Textbook Development Committee (TDC), alleging that their “collective effort is
NEW DELHI: A group of 71 signatories, including vice-chancellors of some central universities, NIT directors and IIM chairpersons, dubbed as “false propaganda” the move of some experts to demand removal of their names from NCERT textbooks over changes, and said “there had been deliberate attempts to
over allegations of “several substantive revisions of original texts” during rationalisation of the syllabus. Government sources, however, said there was no academic merit in the criticism as the “rationalisation” exercise was meant for the immediate objective to reduce the academic load due to the Covid pandemic and, therefore, was temporary in nature. The Council is preparing to bring out a new set of textbooks based on the NCF by the next academic session, official sources said.
TOI reviewed the proposed curriculum, based on which textbooks for Classes 3 to 12 will be designed. According to officials who are part of finalisation of the NCF, the document considers periodic table and its classification as “essential concepts”, while evolution of life, theory of natural selection and Darwinism are dealt with extensively across senior classes.
“The document amplifies the importance of learning at secondary stages (Classes 9 to 12) concepts such as Newton’s laws, Ohm’s laws and Mendel’s laws of inheritance. In fact, classification of elements in the periodic table is part of the curricular goal at the secondary stage,” a subject expert in NCERT said.
Experts involved in framing the curriculum rebutted the criticism that the rationalisation exercise was an excuse for the promotion of an ideology. “The boot is on the other foot. The previous curriculum was geared to promote an agenda, whereas the forthcoming curriculum seeks to fill the gaps in learning,” an expert said.
NCERT had faced criticism for dropping periodic table from the Class 10 and 12 boards. The new NCF, which comes after a gap of 18 years, in a series of four courses is likely to start with classification of elements in the periodic table and their properties. Building on these principles, the combination of elements to form compounds, the nature of these bonds and molecular geometry are to be detailed. In April, a group of scientists, teachers and educators had signed an open letter to NCERT condemning the removal of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution from science textbooks for Class 9 and 10.
“Analysis of evidence demonstrating the consequences of the process of natural selection on biological evolution in terms of changes – structure and function of organisms – is part of the curricular goal, and in the course on Unity of Life, students will be engaged in an overview of the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection through the work of Darwin and Wallace, a discussion of modern synthesis, and an introduction to phylogenetics through the study of the tree of life,” a member of the national steering committee said.
A senior official with the ministry of education said once the NCF was ready, NCERT would take up the “ambitious task” of designing the textbooks by the end of the year.
JNU VC Prof Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said, “Earlier, textbooks were more agenda setting and gatekeeping. Why were the Cholas or the Ahoms, who ruled for much longer, ignored? Mughals will be taught in its rightful space, but several other gaps are being filled, those who were being marginalised earlier.”