The authors of a Class IV textbook in India recently came under fire, after it was revealed that in a lesson on the importance of breathing they were literally encouraging the kids to do an experiment involving suffocating a cat.
It sounds hard to believe that a school textbook for environmental studies could teach children as young as 9 years old to kill an animal as an experiment, but it’s sadly true. Twitter user Lola Kuttiamma shared photos of the book passages concerning the absurd experiment, and people understandably were outraged about it. “Living things breathe”, the textbook explains. “No living thing can live without air for more than a few minutes. “You can do an experiment. Take two wooden boxes. Make holes on lid of one box. Put a small kitten in each box. Close the Boxes. After some time open the boxes. What do you see? The kitten in the box with no holes has died.”
Wow, is that educational or what? And they’re not even suggesting using adult cats, but cute little kittens. Not that grown cats would have made it any more acceptable, but kittens just make it sound even crueler. And if you thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, you were wrong. The textbook, entitled “Our Green World: Environment Studies”, also features a couple of pictograms, with one kitten alive and well in the box with holes in it, and the other, well, dead.
The Our Green World textbook was part of the curriculum at a reputed school in Delhi, India, but it is unclear if it is still being used, following the recent controversy with the kitten experiment. Apparently, the publisher had been notified about this problem months ago. “A parent had called us a couple of months ago and asked us to remove the text from the book because it was harmful for children,” Parvesh Gupta of PP Publications said. “We recalled books from our distribution channel and will come out with a revised book next year.”
“It might be stupid, but they were endangering the lives of the children and animals by citing such an experiment,” Vidhi Matta, spokeswoman for the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, told AFP. Luckily, it appears that none of the kids actually went ahead with the suggested experiment. At least none have come forward about it. Still, people were obviously outraged about the whole thing.
“Person who wrote such experiment must be put in instead of animal. Fools,” one Twitter user wrote.
“How absurd! Doesn’t someone review this shit before it’s authorized & approved to be used in schools?” another asked. And that’s actually a legitimate question. I guess not.
This blunder has once again raised question about the quality of school textbooks in India. You see, this isn’t just an isolated incident. The BBC reports that just last week, another textbook in the Indian state of Maharashtra caused controversy after claiming that “ugly” and “handicapped” brides had led to a rise in dowries being claimed by the groom’s family. In 2014, a school textbook in the western state of Gujarat claimed that Japan had dropped nuclear bombs on the US during WW2. Five years ago, a national textbook mentioned that people who eat meat “easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes”.