Peta-friendly science syllabus from Board

Students of class VI will dissect cockroaches and catfish instead of rats, birds and toads during life science experiments. The West Bengal Board of Secondary Education decided to modify the experiments after repeated appeals from the animal rights activists, led by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta). Peta protested that certain portions in the syllabus encouraged students to do cruel activities against animals. For instance, in order to understand the importance of air, students were asked do experiments like suffocating a guinea pig. In a similar experiment, students were asked not to give water to birds to understand the necessity of water for sustaining life. The Board has informed publishers to omit such experiments. While discussing such topics, examples of common pests like cockroaches and common air breathing fish (catfish) should be cited instead of rats, birds and toads. Mr Swapan Sarkar, Board secretary said letters in this regard have been issued to the publishers more than a month back. "The publishers have to make the necessary changes before the publication of new books for the next academic year.' Peta had approached both Mr Arjun Singh, Union human resource development minister and Mr Partha De, state school education minister to make the necessary changes in the life science syllabus over a year back. The West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education had gotten rid of dissection of toads in practical examination of class XI and XII in 2005. Instead students have to distinguish between a male and female cockroach, rohu fish and grasshopper. n SNS