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NCERT modules on Chandrayaan spark controversy, here’s why?

Several reports from Indian news outlets alleged that NCERT reading modules promote pseudoscience and make misleading claims.

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released detailed modules on Chandrayaan after its successful soft landing earlier this year to educate children about India’s space accomplishments. However, these modules named ‘Chandrayaan Utsav’ have sparked a controversy for mixing science with mythology. Several reports from news outlets have also alleged that and promoted the agenda saying that these modules promote pseudoscience and make misleading claims for middle-schoolers.

The All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN), a consortium of 40 organisations from 25 states has said also said that the modules are ill-written with errors and incorrect information which can drive students away from the existing field of space science.

The modules titled ‘Chandrayaan Utsav’ were released online on Oct 17 in Hindi and English. The release took place at an event in New Delhi in presence of Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and ISRO Chairman S. Somnath. These modules have been divided into ten parts with interactive graphics and engaging illustrations. These modules are being claimed by multiple reports to excessively focus on PM Modi rather than the contributions by ISRO and the scientists involved in the mission. There are additional reports which claim that the modules consistently referred to India as Bharat.

A module for students of Classes IX and X, for instance, contains the following text: “The moon is the brightest and largest heavenly body in our night sky. There are many benefits Earth gets from the moon… it (the moon) creates tides and protects Earth from solar winds, ideal for studying the universe.” This text has been dubbed by the AIPSN as false and inaccurate, while saying, “The moon protecting the Earth from the solar wind is inaccurate and the second part of the sentence, ideal for studying the universe does not have any connection to the first and is meaningless here.”

The Union Education Ministry has replied to these allegations and claims and said that it is important to “equip teachers and students with knowledge that transcends traditional textbooks”. It said by adding the modules on Chandrayaan, the ministry aims to instill a sense of pride in India and its accomplishments. The Ministry also added that it is essential to extend curricular material beyond textbooks with a focus on the nation’s achievements in an accessible and captivating way. 

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