A textbook being used in some schools in north India, including in a prominent school in the capital, asks students to put a kitten in an unventilated box and wait for it to die to demonstrate that living beings cannot live without air. “No living thing can live without air for more than a few minutes. You can do an experiment. Take two wooden boxes. Make holes on the lid of one box. Put a small kitten in each box. Close the boxes. After some time open the boxes. What do you see? The kitten inside the box without holes has died,” reads the textbook, meant for Class IV students.
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The book — Our Green World by PP Publications — is used in some schools to teach environmental science.
After this was brought to their notice by a shocked parent a couple of months ago, publishers have stopped distribution of the book, said Parvesh Gupta of PP Publications.
“A parent had called us a couple of months ago and asked us to remove the text from the book because it was harmful for children. We recalled books from our distribution channel and will come out with a revised book next year,” he said.
Gupta also said he was not aware of the number of schools that were using the textbook.
The book, however, is still being taught to children in schools that had already purchased it.
Recently, a group of parents objected to the text and wrote to animal rights activists.
Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) received a complaint last week, prompting the organisation to launch a formal protest against the publishers of the book.
“We spoke to the publishers and told them about the objectionable material. They agreed to discontinue the book and also said they would come out with a new edition for next year,” said Vidhi Matta, spokesperson, FIAPO.
Schools in Delhi are free to use any textbook they like — till Class VIII at least. Even beyond that, schools can choose the books they want to teach, but also have to follow the syllabus prescribed by the education board. Delhi government schools only use books published by the NCERT.