NCERT has removed a chapter on the periodic table of elements, among other topics, from the Class 10 science textbook
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has removed a chapter on the periodic table of elements, among other topics, from the Class 10 science textbook as a part of a “syllabus rationalisation” exercise undertaken by the council, officials said.
According to the list of rationalised content released by the council in June last year, a chapter titled ‘Periodic Classification of Elements’ was dropped from the science textbook of Class 10. (PTI)
The move, which came to light after scientific journal Nature mentioned it in an article on Wednesday, sparked concerns from experts who described the periodic table as part of critical learning.
Officials at the council said that the topic it was removed when it rationalised the syllabus by 30% to “reduce content load on students” in view of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022. The changes were reflected in new textbooks published earlier this year.
According to the list of rationalised content released by the council in June last year, a chapter titled “Periodic Classification of Elements” was dropped from the science textbook of Class 10. However, the Class 11 chemistry textbook still has a chapter titled “Classification of Elements and Periodicity in Properties” that traces the history of the development of the periodic table of elements.
In a statement issued in June last year, the council said: “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 a creative mindset. In this background, NCERT has undertaken the exercise to rationalise the textbooks across all classes. Learning outcomes already developed by the NCERT across classes have been taken into consideration in this exercise.”
Anand Prakash, an assistant professor of chemistry at Delhi University, said that the periodic table is the foundation of chemistry.
“How will the students study science in Class 11 if they don’t get acquainted with the period table in Class 10? They won’t even know the basics of chemistry, and it is not just chemistry, periodic table is necessary to even study physics at higher levels. The decision to remove a complete chapter from Class 10 is absurd,” he said.
Vimmi Baleja, TGT Science at Mount Abu Public School in Delhi, said that the chapter was part of basic science, and there is a proper mention of the periodic table in classes 8 and 9 as well.
“It was the foundation of teaching students the properties and non metals. One cannot learn it without knowing the position of metals and non-metals in the periodic table.NCERT could have removed some parts of the chapter including classification or the history, instead of deleting the entire chapter. However, we are still teaching the periodic table to Class 10 students so that they are well prepared when they get to study chemistry as a full fledged subject in Class 11,” she said.
NCERT in a series of Tweets said that discussion about basic concepts such as elements, symbols, formation of compounds, atoms and molecules have been dealt with in class 9.
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,” it said.
“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),” it added.
Regarding rationalization of the concept of evolution, the NCERT said that the same has been dealt in appropriate details in classes 12 as stated above.
Among other topics that were removed from the syllabus in 2022, and did not find a mention in the new textbooks, were passages on the theory of evolution, references to the Cold War, the Mughal courts and industrial revolution, the 2002 Gujarat riots, the contribution of agriculture to the Indian economy, and a section on challenges to democracy.
NCERT in 2022 said that several factors — “overlapping” topics, topics “not relevant or outdated in the present context”, or topics that were “difficult” or “easily accessible to children and can be learned through self-learning or peer-learning” — were taken into account during the rationalisation process.
The textbooks released by NCERT for the 2023-24 academic session removed some other references and topics, including the position of Hindu extremists on Mahatma Gandhi’s pursuit of Hindu-Muslim unity, and the ban on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after his assassination.
NCERT in April this year described the omissions as a possible oversight, and said that “minor changes need not be notified” and that they were made on the recommendation of the experts.