THE INDIAN Society of Evolutionary Biologists (ISEB) has expressed concerns over the revised syllabi for Classes IX to XII, in which the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has shelved key topics such as reproduction in organisms, anatomy of plants and animals, pollution, and climate change and its mitigation. These topics are among a host of others omitted by the board for the new academic year 2020-21.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had asked the CBSE to consider reducing the syllabi by 30 per cent for Classes IX to XII. Accordingly, on Wednesday, the CBSE released its revised syllabi for all subjects for the current academic year.
In a statement issued on Thursday, members of the executive council of ISEB said, “A direct consequence of our long-standing neglect of ecology and evolution in our biology curricula and research programmes is the relative paucity of epidemiologists in India. This renders the removal of most of evolution and ecology, including systematics and diversity of life, from syllabi of Classes X to XII as dangerously tragic.”
For Classes XI and XII, some topics in biology no longer a part of the curriculum this year are reproduction in organisms, origin and biological origins of life, Darwin’s contribution, human evolution, air and water pollution and its control, radioactive waste and management, effects of greenhouse gases on climate change and its mitigation, deforestation, depletion of ozone layer.
Though ISEB fully supports the curriculum being reduced this year, it has gone on to mention that, “We believe that the removal of entire central topics is not the way to achieve the goal of reduction of syllabi.”
Sutirth Dey, executive council member of ISEB, told The Indian Express, “Instead of omitting key topics entirely, revision can be done in such a manner that core concepts of each are retained. Whereas, advanced concepts within a topic can be excluded, and this could be replicated for all subjects.”
The statement mentions the importance of complete understanding of zoonotic pandemic through thorough study of diverse areas of ecology and evolution. Linking the revised syllabi with the future of study of medical sciences, the biologists have said, “Public health leans heavily on many aspects of evolution and ecology, including human ecology, in addition to classical medical science.”
The ISEB has urged the government to take a relook at the revision of syllabi and soon plans to contact the MHRD. The society has also expressed its willingness to guide the CBSE in its syllabi revision, so that students do not remain devoid of learning important topics.
For Classes IX and X, biological diversity, which majorly covers plant and animal diversity, their hierarchy, group, and categories, has been removed.
However, the MHRD has defended its move after questions were raised on certain topics being deleted.
In its tweet on Thursday, the MHRD said, “The only aim is to relax the stress on students by reducing the syllabus by 30%. This exercise has been carried out following the advice and recommendations of various experts and considering the suggestions received from educationists through our #SyllabusForStudents2020 campaign.”
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