Efforts stemming from the Turkish government’s religious agenda to severely censor students’ access to modern evolution theory threatens educational freedom. In Turkish high school classrooms, the coverage of evolution theory is vague, human evolution and origin of vertebrates are ignored entirely, leaving any questions about origins of human and other animals to be answered by creationist ideas taught simultaneously in mandatory religion courses and science class. Paleontology, as an evolutionary science, in higher education lacks a modern integrated approach of anatomy, morphology, ecology, and macroevolution. In geology departments micropaleontology, based on the memorization of (invertebrate) fossil taxa names to tell us about the age of strata, is the only taught. Both biology and geology departments do not offer vertebrate paleontology education.
There is a lack of variation among the departments’ course offerings; nearly identical curriculum. The freedom of academics to determine the content of the courses they teach is stifled by university bureaucracy overseen by the Council of Higher Education (YÖK). This study addresses the connection between students in the Turkish public education system who are deprived of the principles of biological evolution, human evolution, vertebrate paleontology and educators who are intellectually and pedagogically unequipped to teach these topics. All high school textbooks are either written by or filtered through the Ministry of National Education, and therefore are subject to political bias. The content of Finnish high school biology textbooks is analyzed and used here as a counter example in critiquing and making recommendations for amending the coverage of human evolution in Turkish high school biology textbooks.