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Turkish schools told to cut evolution, make room for Quran

In nominally secular Turkey, the K-12 public curriculum has been updated to omit evolution and expand religious instruction.

As the new school year started in Turkey on Sept. 18, civil society groups and media outlets rang alarm bells. The issue is Turkey’s new K-12 curriculum, updated over the summer to remove all instruction on evolution from science classes and expand religious instruction.

The debate started earlier in the summer when the Ministry of National Education updated the K-12 curriculum by removing evolution and introducing the concept of jihad. Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz defended the decision July 18, arguing that evolution “is above the students’ level and not directly relevant.” Not surprisingly, critics questioned whether, if evolution is “too complicated” for adolescents, religious texts — with their frequent use of metaphors and allegories — might be even harder for them to grasp.

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