Promotion and cultivation of rationality and spirit of unafraid questioning
and keen inquisitiveness in young minds is the very foundational pillar of
modern Education.

Jettisoning this goal -- in the name of "decolonising the mind" or whatever
-- is sure to prove extremely harmful, rather sooner than later, and has,
therefore, got to be resolutely resisted.
Must not go under the radar.

<<"To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and

These words were crafted in 1976 in an amendment to India’s constitution.
The constitution’s writers rightly saw the pursuit of evidence, reasoning
and humanity as the responsibility of every citizen as India emerged from
arguably the most tumultuous period in its history since gaining
independence from Britain nearly three decades earlier.
But those attributes now seem to be less valued, at least by those involved
in setting the country’s education policies. A series of changes to school
science teaching have resulted in the deletion of the periodic table,
explanations of evolution and electromagnetism, and discussions about the
sustainable use of natural resources from the textbooks used by children
aged 14–16.

These and other topics were removed from the curriculum last year to help
lighten students’ workloads during the COVID-19 pandemic. But they have now
been removed from textbooks, too. The National Council of Educational
Research and Training (NCERT), the government-funded but operationally
autonomous body tasked with producing India’s textbooks, has not discussed
the changes — which will affect more than 38 million children — with
parents, teachers or researchers. Those who study science education have
told Nature that they’re baffled, not least by the lack of any engagement.
The process of evolution by natural selection and the principles underlying
the periodic table are both fundamental concepts that explain — and
encourage students to wonder about — the world at large. Life, in all its
magnificent permutations and combinations, is the product of evolutionary
processes. Meanwhile, a surprisingly small set of chemical elements form
the building blocks of our physical world. How and why these two realms are
the way they are can be traced back to lessons set out in conceptual
frameworks that NCERT has axed.
Learning core scientific concepts, practising problem-solving and delving
deep into the history of science — both local and global — needn’t be done
in isolation. The development of a scientific temperament and pride in
heritage can go hand in hand. As we have written in these columns before,
research does not advance without a firm grasp of what came before. In
short, science and history complement each other.

Researchers who study India’s education policy have told Nature that
organizations that are critical of science are advocating for or
influencing these changes to textbooks. They point to one organization in
particular: the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which has close ties to the
ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

NCERT does, of course, need to listen to opinions from the full community
spectrum. But, as an autonomous body, it must be free to make its own
decisions, and should always do so on the basis of the best available
evidence. Public confidence in its decisions will be helped if it engages
with all users: pupils, teachers, parents and researchers. Not doing so
fuels all kinds of speculation, some of which might not be accurate.

NCERT needs to end its vow of silence. Few people would take issue with its
ambition to boost critical thinking and promote learning by doing, or with
its desire for students to enjoy their education. Both can go hand-in-hand
with exploring India’s rich pre- and postcolonial history of discovery and

(Excerpted from: <>.)

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