The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has decided to omit the chapter on the periodic table from Class 10 Science textbooks as part of the “rationalisation” exercise. The chapter however has been retained in Class 11 textbook.
The NCERT had notified these changes in its June 2022 circular which has been widely debated in academic circles.
Nearly 68 lakh students opted for Arts and Commerce stream in academic year of 2021-22, which is 54% of 1.25 crore students who passed Class 10. Considering that a similar number of students opt for non-science streams in coming years, they may lose out on the opportunity to learn about the crucial basic Chemistry concepts, that are now only accessible in Class 11. “Only 52.4 lakh students opted for Science stream in higher secondary school in 2022, which is 42% of all Class 10 students who passed,” according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education.
While this data pertains to nearly 60 State boards, NCERT textbooks are considered as a cornerstone to guide publication of State board textbooks.
“The periodic table and the logical organisation of elements is fundamental to the understanding of chemistry. To leave that out is not preparing students adequately for things they may have to learn in future. All students should be expected to have a knowledge of these basic aspects of chemistry. I don’t see any rationale behind this omission,” said Gautam Menon, Professor of Physics and Biology at Ashoka University.
According to the NCERT, it has been carrying out the exercise — “rationalisation of contents in the textbooks” — across all classes to “reduce content load on students”.
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“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to reduce content load on students. The National Education Policy 2020, also emphasises reducing the content load and providing opportunities for experiential learning with creative mindset. In this background, NCERT has undertaken the exercise to rationalise the textbooks across all classes,” the NCERT said explaining the exercise.
Earlier this year, the council had controversially dropped Darwin’s theory of evolution from its Class 10 textbooks.
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The council has also deleted chapters Democracy and Diversity, Popular Struggles and Movements, Political Parties, and Challenges to Democracy from the Political Science textbooks as part of the exercise.
Among other controversial omissions, the NCERT had also deleted any mention of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a freedom fighter and India’s first Education Minister, from a revised political science textbook published by the council. The authors of the revised Class 11 textbook had also deleted the fact that Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India on the basis of a promise that the State would remain autonomous. Entire chapters on history of Mughal courts, references to the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, the Naxalite movement, and mention of Dalit writers were also omitted from the CBSE syllabus.
Responding to the row over the removal of chapters on periodic table and evolution, the NCERT said, “With respect to the removal of the concepts of periodic table and evolution are concerned, the same has not been removed from the school education curriculum but in fact are available in appropriate detail in classes 11 and 12.”
On the periodict table issue, The NCERT added: “Discussion about basic concepts such as elements, symbols, formation of compounds, atoms and molecules have been dealt with in class 9. In class 10, chemical reaction; acids, bases & salts; metals & non-metals; carbon & its compounds have been covered. Students pursuing science in classes 11 and 12 will study the details of Periodic Classification of elements (Periodic table).”