Court to debate omission of evolution theory from Turkey’s education curriculum

Court to debate omission of evolution theory from Turkey’s education curriculum

ISTANBUL
Court to debate omission of evolution theory from Turkey’s education curriculum

The Union of Education and Science Workers (Eğitim-İş) will resort to court to protest the Education Ministry’s recent regulation omitting Darwin’s theory of evolution from Turkey’s high school curriculum, its chair Mehmet Balık has told Deutsche Welle.

“Excluding the theory of evolution from the curriculum and obliging all schools to have a prayer room and water closet [for ablution] destroys the principle of secularism and the scientific principles of education. We will open a lawsuit against these regulations and take these implementations to court,” Balık said an interview published on July 1.

Darwin’s theory of evolution has been excluded from the most recent draft of Turkey’s new national curriculum, which will soon be released. Accordingly, the “Origin of Life and Evolution” section, which Education Ministry officials describe as “controversial,” will be removed from biology classes in high schools starting in 2019. 

“As students in ninth grade are not endowed with the scientific background to discuss controversial subjects such as the ‘Origin of Life and Evolution’ section in biology classes, this section will be delayed until undergraduate study,” the head of the Education Ministry’s curriculum board, Alpaslan Durmuş, had previously said.

Balık suggested that the government aims to “prevent inquisitive generations” with the regulation change. “Before the curriculum change, biology classes were reduced from three to two hours per week and religious classes were increased from two to three hours per week, which explains everything,” he said. 

The head of the Union of Education Workers (Eğitim-Sen), Feray Aytekin Aydoğan, also condemned the recent regulation, which he said meant religious principles were adopted and secularism was prevented. 

“In recent times prayers rooms have started to be opened in schools. The way has been paved for religious brotherhoods to be effective in education, starting from elementary schools. The last crumbs of secular, scientific education are being destroyed,” Aydoğan said.

She also said the teachers of the union would continue to talk about the theory of evolution at schools, despite the chapter being excluded from the curriculum. 

“This is a debt we owe to our students. There can be no scientific education without talking about this lesson. Despite every kind of ban, we will continue to lecture on evolution,” Aydoğan said.