The National Council of Educational Research and Training on Saturday defended its removal of evolutionary theory and the periodic table from the Class X science textbook, underscoring these are taught in Classes XI and XII.
However, several schoolteachers re-emphasised what critics of the decision have been saying from the outset — that it denies students who take up the arts, social sciences or commerce after Class X any academic exposure to evolutionary theory.
The changes to the Class X science textbook — part of an avowed effort to reduce the academic load on students — have included the axing of content on the sources of energy, natural resources and sustainable management too.
Several scientists have said the deletions could endanger young people’s capacity to think critically and ask questions.
The NCERT on Saturday uploaded on its website a document titled “NCERT’s response to news related to rationalised content on Evolution and Periodic Tables in Science Textbooks”.
It says the NCERT has “rationalised” the content keeping in mind how the pandemic had prevented regular classes. It adds that the deletions were based on criteria such as content overlap between lower and higher classes, high difficulty level, and the possibility of self-learning or peer-learning.
“With respect to the removal of the concepts of periodic table and evolution are concerned (sic), the same has not been removed from the school education curriculum but in fact are available in appropriate detail in classes 11 and 12,” the document says.
On the axing of the theory of evolution, it adds: “A considered opinion emerged based on the feedback received from various stakeholders, including practising teachers, that children may not have to study same concepts at different stages and it needs to be done at appropriate stage. Therefore the same has been rationalised at this stage, more so considering the Covid pandemic situation.”
“In Class 10, chemical reaction; acids, bases & salts; metals & non-metals; carbon & its compounds have been covered. Students pursuing science in classes 11 and 12 will study the details of Periodic Classification of elements (Periodic table),” it says.
A teacher said: “Most students would be denied the chance to learn about evolutionary theory since they will not pursue science in Classes XI and XII.”