Indian Society of Evolutionary Biologist (ISEB) has raised concerns about dropping topics like ‘Evolution’ and ‘Ecology’ from the Biology curriculum for the 2020-21 academic session. “This pandemic has tragically highlighted the consequences of our neglect of evolution and ecology in school and higher education in India,” says ISEB. The topics have been removed from the syllabus as part of CBSE’s decision to reduce syllabus by 30% to account for the loss of academic days this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Biologist Society says that topics like Evolution and Ecology are crucial to understanding topics such as species interaction, population dynamics, coevolutionary dynamics, evolution of host range expansions, transmission dynamics of pathogens etc., which are in turn required to understand a zoonotic pandemic.
Public health too depends heavily on understanding of aspects of evolution and ecology including human ecology, in addition to classical medical science, the society says.
It points out that the insufficient number of epidemologists in India is a direct consequence of the long-standing neglect of ecology and evolution in biology curricula and research programmes. Thus, the removal of evolution and ecology from Biology curriculum is not only ‘dangerously tragic but ironic as well’.
The society, while it understands the need to reduce syllabus in these unprecedented times, says that the removal of an entire topic is not going to achieve that goal.
CBSE, meanwhile, after uproar over removal of vital topics like ‘Federalism’, ‘Secularism’, and ‘Citizenship’ from its Political Science curriculum, issued a clarification saying that the topics that have been removed will be taught in class to the extent required to understand all related topics but no questions will be asked from these topics.