Turkish academics tell ministry that evolution theory excluded from curriculum ‘only in Saudi Arabia’

Turkish academics tell ministry that evolution theory excluded from curriculum ‘only in Saudi Arabia’

Turkish academics tell ministry that evolution theory excluded from curriculum ‘only in Saudi Arabia’ Academics from top universities in Turkey have told the Education Ministry that evolutionary theory is excluded from curriculum “only in Saudi Arabia,” after the ministry removed the subject from its formal new curriculum. 

The academics from Boğaziçi University, Middle East Technical University, Bilkent University, Hacettepe University and Ankara University, as well as from a number of science associations, criticized the exclusion of evolution theory from the curriculum. 

The Education Ministry had set up an online platform between Jan. 13 and Feb. 10 to canvass the views of the public on 52 different classes in the draft curriculum, apart from the religion and morality class. It was then observed that the “Origin of Life and Evolution” chapter was removed from the biology class in the last year of high school, changed to a new “Creatures and Evolution” chapter to be studied later. 

Many people making suggestions about the curriculum said the theory of evolution should be taught in the fourth year of high school.

In a report presented to Deputy Education Minister Orhan Erdem, the university academics stressed that the only country that does not have evolution theory in its curriculum is Saudi Arabia, daily Habertürk reported on March 1. 

“The common route of living beings and the subject of evolution should be included in the curriculum from the very first stages of elementary school. The subjects of Science and Technology classes in elementary schools should be presented with a perspective that would make students connect it with the subjects they see in future years, and should provide them with an evolutionary point of view,” the academics’ appeal stated, adding that issues on evolutionary biology should be involved in the curriculum starting from fifth grade. 

Giving examples from practices implemented in other countries, the academics stated that education on nature and ecology starts in pre-school education in Finland. 

“Starting from the seventh grade, evolution theory is taught in an extensive and detailed way in Finland. Biology education at high-school consists of five books. In 2016, evolution theory’s content was made richer and the biology education was restructured within the context of evolution theory,” the report added.
Another country referenced in the report is Iran, with the academics noting that fossils are included as part of the course on world history in the fifth grade of elementary school. 

“In the last year of middle school, the biology book includes speciation, evolution, genetics and dynamics of population under the main title of ‘Routes of Life.’ It also includes information on evolution and population genetics. There are 60 pages in the book on evolution and 11 pages on Darwin’s theory of evolution,” the report said. 

Britain and the U.S. were among other examples given by the academics, who said students in Britain are introduced to fossils in third grade. 

“Starting from the fourth grade, students in the U.K. learn how to classify the species and say humans are part of the animal world. In seventh and ninth grades it’s handled more broadly. In the U.S., evolution theory is taught to students as one of the main four ideas of biology starting from second grade and this continues in high school,” it added. 

Similar practices are implemented Georgia and Canada, the report noted.

“In Georgia, evolutionary biology is included in every level of education. In Canada, even though there are differences between the states, generally the evolutionary concepts are handled starting from elementary school. In 11th and 12th grades, the issues on evolution are handled in a broad and detailed way,” it also said.