Evolution Abroad

Creationism Evolves in Science Classrooms around the Globe

Education experts suggest that in some cultural contexts one way to encourage acceptance of evolution is by not shunning religious beliefs

By Katherine Harmon 

teaching creationism in the classroom worldwide TEACHING THEORY: In some schools across the world, separating belief from scientific reasoning can be a difficult assignment. Image: ISTOCKPHOTO/BARTCO

As the familiar battles over evolution education continue to play out in U.S. state legislatures and school boards, other countries are facing very different dynamics. Much of the world lives outside of any law that requires separation of church and state, making creationism trickier to disentangle from public school curricula.
Many countries have only recently started taking a systematic look at how the topic of evolutionary theory and biology is addressed in classrooms. Early research suggests that not only does anti-evolution instruction make its way into science classes worldwide—from the European Union to Southeast Asia—but in many regions, it also seems to be on the rise.

In some parts of the world, such as countries in northeastern Asia, evolution has had a relatively solid toehold in curricula for decades. But even in the U.K. the rise of publicly funded free schools allow alternatives to state-approved science curricula. And in some Muslim-majority countries, such as Pakistan, many teachers tell students to disregard the evolution unit entirely because the theory is incorrect.

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