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Out of the Books

Schoolchildren in Turkey will no longer be learning about evolution, NPR reports.

Beginning this fall, new textbooks are being introduced for grades one, five, and nine, it adds, noting that the other grades will receive new books next year. Evolution is typically taught in ninth grade, but no longer will be, NPR reports. It says that the Turkish government is implementing a 'values-based curriculum.'

"Evolutionary biology is best left to be taught at the university level," Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz told reporters, according to NPR. "It's a theory that requires a higher philosophical understanding than schoolchildren have."

But, NPR says that critics of the plan argue the government is pushing a conservative religious ideology that will hurt schoolchildren.

Emel Ishakoglu, a retired chemical engineer, tells NPR that she hopes the policy will change by the time her grandchildren reach high school. "Otherwise our kids will be left behind compared to other countries when it comes to science education," she says.

Similarly, the president of Turkey's Science Academy, Ali Alpar, tells NPR that scientists are worried for the country. "It is not only evolution. Evolution is a test case. It is about rationality — about whether the curriculum should be built on whatever the government chooses to be the proper values," he says.