New Delhi: Chapters on the periodic table, challenges to democracy, and sustainable management of natural resources are among those dropped from Class 10 textbooks by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT).
According to the NCERT, it has been carrying out a “rationalisation” exercise based on expert recommendations. It said the changes to the textbooks were being made in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to “reduce the content load” on students.
Last year, chapters on Darwin’s theory of evolution were removed from class 10 biology textbooks. Baffled over the move, more than 4,000 researchers have signed an open letter asking officials to restore the material.
Researchers have signalled that the government’s move is a growing embrace of pseudoscience by Indian officials.
Evolutionary biologist Amitabh Joshi of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research told Nature that the removal makes “a travesty of the notion of a well-rounded secondary education”.
“Anybody who’s trying to teach biology without dealing with evolution is not teaching biology as we currently understand it,” Jonathan Osborne, a science-education researcher at Stanford University in California, told Nature. “It’s that fundamental to biology.”
The periodic table explains how life’s building blocks combine to generate substances with vastly different properties, he added, 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 told the journal 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 said.
The NCERT had also deleted any mention of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a freedom fighter and India’s first education minister, from a revised political science textbook. It had also omitted an earlier statement which said that Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India was on the basis of a promise that the state would remain autonomous.
Chapters on the history of Mughal courts, references to the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Naxalite movement, and Dalit writers were also dropped from the CBSE syllabus.