More than five months after its October 2013 assurance to an RTI applicant that an Errata pertaining to serious factual errors in biology text books of Class 11 and 12 would be uploaded on its website reprinted and also reprinted in new books, the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) has failed to keep its word.
The issue assumes significance as the Class 12 students take the biology exam on March 15 and are confused on the answers that would be considered correct.
Several subject experts have pointed out many times that there are nearly 80 factual errors in these books.
Another set of students that are extremely worried are the aspirants to the All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) scheduled in May. There is a point of view that with no official errata in public domain, giving the actual factual correct answer might lead to a deduction in marks.
AIPMT is based on NCERT books and the biology paper carries half of the weightage in it.
In October 2013, AK Wazalwar, head, department of education in Science and Mathematics (DESM) at NCERT, replied to a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act on the errors in Class 11 and Class 12 Biology books. The reply said that a group of experts would examine the issue and an Errata would be published on the NCERT website as well as considered for publication in the reprinted edition within 2-3 months.
In further correspondence dated January 13, 2014, CV Shimray, assistant professor, DESM, said that said that experts had verified the corrections/changes and forwarded these to the department concerned. The same was being being incorporated in the reprinted edition and uploaded in the council's website, the communication said.
Local academician Dr Arvind Goyal, who filed the RTI, said: "The NCERT should not play with the future of the students. The corrections in the reprinted edition can wait, but there should not be any further delay in uploading the errata at the website to remove confusion on several error in the biology textbooks."
Medical aspirant Sarthak said, "In spite of knowing that a particular fact is wrong, we are forced to cram it as we have no other option."
A teacher Vivek Gulati said that that issue must be addressed at the earliest.
When contacted, joint director NCERT BK Tripathi acknowledged the errors in biology books. "Since January, we have been working to rectify the errors in the reprinted editions," he said.
On the question of uploading the Errata on council's website, he said he would shortly look into the matter and expedite the process.
Error in 2013 paper
The issue has been pending for long. Arnav Aggarwal, the 2013 AIIMS topper from Chandigarh, said that he lost five marks in 2013 CBSE PMT, because of errors and confusion in NCERT books.
The paper asked for the equivalent structure of Megasporangium. The answers asked students to pick one among Ovule and Nucellus and others. However, both these options are correct as per Class-11 NCERT text book.
GLOSSARY OF ERRORS
(Class 12/ pg 62)
Error: Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) is defined as intentional or voluntary termination of pregnancy before full term.
Fact: Actually MTP is voluntary termination of pregnancy till 20 weeks of pregnancy as defined in the MTP Act
(Class 12, pg 159)
Error: Drugs like lysergic acid diethyl amides (LSD) that are normally used as medicines to help patients cope with mental illnesses are often abused.
Fact: As per Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, Lysergic acid diethyl amide (LSD) is not used as a medicine at all as it is a very strong hallucinogenic drug having ill-effects even at low doses.
(Class 12 pg 13), Class 11 pg 165)
Error: Haploid chromosome number (n) in Onion is given as 16 (Class12) it is written that onion cells have 14 chromosomes (Class 11)
Fact: Both the facts are wrong. According to Genetics by Strickberger, 16 is the diploid number of chromosomes in onion and haploid chromosome number is 8
(Class 12, page no. 45)
Error: Each fallopian tube has the following parts. Infundibulum; Ampulla ;Isthmus
Fact: As per Jeffcoate's Principles of Gynaecology, the fallopian tube is divided into four parts: Interstitial or intramural part ; Isthmus ; Ampulla; Infundibulum
(Class 11, page no 259)
Error: The colon is divided into three parts - an ascending, a transverse and a descending part
Fact: Gray's Anatomy says that the Colon comprises an ascending, transverse, descending and sigmoid.