The result is disappointing, although not surprising.
Turkey has recently announced a new school curriculum that would ban Darwin’s theory of evolution in primary and secondary education. The decision of the Turkish government has led to protests from proponents of secularism whose foundations have been undermined since 2002 when Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power, reports Jutarnji List on 23 July 2017.
The events in Turkey have brought the issue into focus in other countries as well. The Pew Research Centre has recently published a study “Religious beliefs and national affiliation in Central and Eastern Europe” in which it examined attitudes towards evolution in 18 European, mostly former communist, countries. The research in Croatia was conducted by the Ipsos agency from June 2015 to July 2016, on a sample of 1,616 respondents.
The survey showed that the theory of evolution is accepted by 57 percent of the population, which is four percent less than in Serbia, where a scandalous initiative to expel Darwin from the curriculum was launched two months ago.
“I think that we in Croatia do not need to fear such efforts for now. Nevertheless, we need to actively promote the learning and teaching of evolution in schools, as it is one of the fundamental pillars of scientific thinking and the foundation of developed societies, based on numerous evidence,” said Boris Jokić from the Institute for Social Research and the former leader of the expert working group for the implementation of curricular reform.
“I would find it extremely harmful and dangerous if the teaching of evolution in Croatian schools were to come into question. Although currently there is no organised and publicly articulated initiative to expel evolution from Croatian schools, during the work of curricular reform expert group there was pressure from certain circles to do precisely that. Some of those who have actively hampered the efforts of more than 500 teachers and university professors personally spoke to me about it. But, as in many other situations, they are not brave enough to say it in public,” explained Jokić.
A few years ago, he published the book “Science and Religion in Croatian Elementary Education: Pupils’ Attitudes and Perspectives”, which is the first study of the positions of students towards natural sciences and religion. The survey included 500 students of elementary schools in Zagreb who attended Catholic catechism classes.
“My scientific paper showed that most students at the end of their primary education belong to the so-called theistic-evolutionist position, in which evolutionist explanation is accepted. They just attribute the initiation of the process to the influence of the supernatural. A smaller number of students take up the entirely evolutionist position, while an even smaller percentage of them completely reject evolution and assume the creationist position,” said Jokić, whose team has prepared a curriculum of which the teaching of evolution was an essential element.
“Working groups that have developed the curricula have devoted particular attention to issues of diversity of the living world. These topics should be taught from the first grade of elementary school, while a more specific discussion of the evolution would begin in the fifth grade of elementary school and should be elaborated through several grades of elementary and high school, as well as through different subjects. That was supposed to bring Croatia closer to developed Western societies,” concluded Jokić.
Translated from Jutarnji List.