Official educational materials aimed at teaching India’s students about Chandrayaan-3, the nation’s third lunar exploration mission, are drawing sharp criticism from some of the nation’s scientists. The teaching guides contain technical errors, misleading content, and pseudoscientific claims rooted in religious texts, the critics say.
“This is a great disservice to science and technology, to education, and the scientific temper,” says Satyajit Rath, president of the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN), a network of science organizations that has called on India’s Ministry of Education to withdraw the materials.
The ministry has defended the 10 modules for elementary and high school students. “Mythology and philosophy put forward ideas and ideas lead to innovation and research,” the ministry said in a 25 October statement. The guides, it said, reflect “the whole gestalt of India’s association with sky and space.”
The materials, released in English and Hindi on 17 October by the National Council of Educational Research and Training, a body that sets India’s educational curriculum and textbooks, focus on the Chandrayaan-3 mission, which successfully placed a lander and rover on the Moon in August. Modules for younger students introduce basic concepts about spaceflight and suggest classroom activities, such as building a paper model of the spacecraft. Those aimed at older students discuss the mission’s technology and scientific goals.
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