INDIA – A textbook has sparked a public outcry in India for instructing fourth-graders to suffocate a kitten to learn that living beings need air.
The experiment went on to describe in the environmental science textbook for 9-year-olds tells the students to place two kittens in separate boxes, one of them without air holes, and then just wait to see the result.
The textbook, which is titled “Our Green World”, was published by PP Publications, which is a New Delhi-based publisher of school textbooks. It had been used in hundreds of schools in the Indian capital and the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana since last April.
The first chapter, which is titled “Living things breathe” reads: “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 the 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 inside the box without holes has died.”
The publisher explained on Friday that the book was no longer being published and would not be prescribed for the new school year starting in April.
“A couple of months ago, some parents called and complained about the science experiment in the book,” said Parvesh Gupta, the publisher. “They said it was harmful to children and cruel to the animals.”
Although India’s education ministry does have advisory panels and institutes that approve of middle and high school textbooks, elementary schools can choose and prescribe their own textbooks.