Weird India cuts periodic table and evolution from school textbooks — experts are baffled

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In India, children under 16 returning to school this month at the start of the school year will no longer be taught about evolution, the periodic table of elements or sources of energy.

The news that evolution would be cut from the curriculum for students aged 15–16 was widely reported last month, when thousands of people signed a petition in protest. But official guidance has revealed that a chapter on the periodic table will be cut, too, along with other foundational topics such as sources of energy and environmental sustainability. Younger learners will no longer be taught certain pollution- and climate-related topics, and there are cuts to biology, chemistry, geography, mathematics and physics subjects for older school students.

Overall, the changes affect some 134 million 11–18-year-olds in India’s schools. The extent of what has changed became clearer last month when the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) — the public body that develops the Indian school curriculum and textbooks — released textbooks for the new academic year that started in May.

Researchers, including those who study science education, are shocked. “Anybody who’s trying to teach biology without dealing with evolution is not teaching biology as we currently understand it,” says Jonathan Osborne, a science-education researcher at Stanford University in California. “It’s that fundamental to biology.” The periodic table explains how life’s building blocks combine to generate substances with vastly different properties, he adds, and “is one of the great intellectual achievements of chemists”.

Mythili Ramchand, a science-teacher trainer at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, says that “everything related to water, air pollution, resource management has been removed. “I don’t see how conservation of water, and air [pollution], is not relevant for us. It’s all the more so currently,” she adds. A chapter on different sources of energy — from fossil fuels to renewables — has also been removed. “That’s a bit strange, quite honestly, given the relevance in today’s world,” says Osborne.

More than 4,500 scientists, teachers and science communicators have signed an appeal organized by Breakthrough Science Society, a campaign group based in Kolkata, India, to reinstate the axed content on evolution.


Honestly, I don't really get why religions have to hinder science education. Is it because they are afraid they are losing followers?
 
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