Cape Town - A science teacher at an upmarket Cape Town school has found herself at odds with senior staff over her desire to teach evolution in science lessons.
"I explicitly put teaching natural selection on the syllabus for the year; I made a three week slot; I came with practical experiments they could do. What I discovered was, I was the only person teaching natural selection," said a science teacher at a Cape Town high school who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity.
She said that the teachers in the school's science department were mainly Christian and that she was reprimanded over teaching the scientific concept.
"We're talking about the head of biology, we're talking about the longest standing member [of staff] who's been there for more than 25 years and we're talking about the most recent member who was trained in a Biology area.
"What he actively does in class is he poo poos the idea [of evolution], he makes kids laugh at the idea of the age of the Earth as proposed by scientists currently. He poo poos the fossil record, he gives what he believes is counter evidence to carbon dating," she said.
The theory of natural selection by evolution is accepted by science as the method by which species evolved to the ecosystem on the planet today, however, evangelical religious groups in the US have lobbied that creationism is should also be taught as a competing theory in science lessons.
"Sometimes the way science is reported and transmitted to the public may cause confusion. Another thing to bear in mind is that perhaps the world isn't that simple.
"Sometimes the world is very complicated it is difficult to communicate science to the public and the result is that some people have a negative view of science and then science communicators then bend over backward to try and accommodate people while they on the other hand, they know it is E=mc², it's not E=mc² plus baby Jesus," psychohistorian Auke Slotegraaf told News24.
For the teacher, she worried that the lack of competent science education hampers the learning of school students.
"I met a Muslim Biology teacher who refused to teach evolution and I met a Christian Geography teacher who refused to teach plate tectonics.
"They [the children] have no understanding of evolution by natural selection," she said.
Parents who had been made aware of the teacher's lesson plans had apparently also told their children to dismiss the teacher's lessons.
"One kid told me that his dad had already told him that he was to ignore everything that I said about evolution because it was a load of nonsense. The parents are preparing them to reject it."
Conservative attitudes have forced many in science into being on the defensive and the teacher said that since leaving the school, her lot has not improved.
"I'm constantly on the defensive. In fact, my life has got even more interesting now because I've joined a school that's a cult. They believe that their leader has insight and he believes that the entire solar system was created for human beings, and that animals and plants are the rejected parts of what would've been the human body that don't belong, and the last thing to be rejected was bacteria.
"And don't bother that the fossil record goes the other way round because he had these insights through his spiritual and meditative journeys. So now I find myself out of the frying pan into the fire."