Turkish Schools Will No Longer Teach Evolution: OfficialTurkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Schools in Turkey will no longer teach evolution, a senior education official has said, reports The Guardian. The move is likely to anger the country’s largely secular opposition. Board of Education Chairperson Alpaslan Durmuş described evolution as ‘debatable, controversial and too complicated for students’ in a video posted on the Education Ministry’s website.

We believe that these subjects are beyond their (students) comprehension.
Board of Education Chairperson Alpaslan Durmuş

The chapter on evolution would be removed from high-school biology (ninth grade) and moved into the undergraduate syllabi, while another subject that might face the axe is the legacy of secularism, according to Durmuş. Critics of the current government believe that it is stripping public life of the secular culture and traditions instilled by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who founded the nation.

The opposition has for long held the view that the Erdoğan government is pursuing a covert Islamist agenda that goes against the founding values of the republic. Education is considered a contentious matter as it can impact future generations. Parents have protested against how religion is taught in schools. Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş had even said that the theory of evolution was archaic and that it lacked evidence. The draft changes have been put up for public consultation since the start of the year.

Evolution is not a widely accepted subject among mainstream Muslim clerics in the Middle East who believe that it goes against creationist theory that God created the first human being, Adam, from clay and then breathed life into him.

Turkish media reports have shown leaked school meetings predicting an upward surge in religious studies. The opposition believes that the current government’s policies are reshaping Turkey towards neo-Ottaman ideals with Turkey as a vanguard of an Islamic nation.

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