Latest draft of Turkey’s new national curriculum ‘excludes evolution theory’

Latest draft of Turkey’s new national curriculum ‘excludes evolution theory’

Gülseven Özkan, Gamze Kolcu – ANKARA
Latest draft of Turkey’s new national curriculum ‘excludes evolution theory’

Darwin’s theory of evolution has been excluded from the most recent draft of Turkey’s new national curriculum, which will be released following the Eid al-Fitr holiday, the head of the Education Ministry’s curriculum board, Alpaslan Durmuş, has said.

Durmuş told educators during an Ankara seminar on June 20 that the ministry had presented the draft to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has approved it.

Accordingly, the “Origin of Life and Evolution” section, which he described as “controversial,” will be removed from biology classes in high schools starting in 2019.  

“We have excluded controversial subjects for students at an age unable yet to understand the issues’ scientific background. As the students at ninth grade are not endowed with antecedents to discuss the ‘Origin of Life and Evolution’ section in biology classes, this section will be delayed until undergraduate study,” Durmuş said.  

Academics from top universities in Turkey previously criticized the prospective move, telling the Education Ministry that the only country from which evolutionary theory was excluded in school education was Saudi Arabia.

“The subjects of Science and Technology classes in elementary schools should be presented with a perspective that allows students to connect it to subjects they will encounter in future years. It should provide them with an evolutionary point of view,” the academics stated, adding that evolutionary biology information should be included in the curriculum starting from fifth grade. 

Durmuş also addressed other issues on June 20, noting that obligatory “Religion and Morality” classes would not be included within the curriculum of first, fifth, and ninth graders, but students would be able to choose religion classes as an optional course if they wish. 

“We have undertaken a simplification in the curriculum. It is one of our targets to realize complete learning. In educational programs we are trying to convey basic values, information, skills, capability, sufficiency, attitude, and good behavior to our children. We have tried to add our local and national values to the curriculum,” he added. 

Durmuş also touched on the issue of slanted cursive handwriting, the obligatory classroom use of which by teachers was recently abolished. 

“Students will now be able to receive their education with basic upright writing. We’ll ask our teachers about their preferences and we’ll send them necessary materials depending on the writing style they want to teach,” he said.

The teaching of slanted cursive handwriting to the students had been taken as a basis in the education program in Turkey introduced in 2005