This article investigates the attitudes of South African student teachers towards the theory of evolution and their
willingness to teach it. The teaching of evolution has been excluded from the South African school curriculum for
most of the 20th century. In 2008, Grade 12 learners were for the first time exposed to the concept of evolution in
the Life Sciences curriculum. The participants in this study completed school prior to 2008 and thus have to
interpret this curriculum with no or very little training in this topic. A questionnaire consisting of Likert-style and
open-ended questions was administered to student teachers who intend to become secondary school biology
teachers. A large percentage of the participants were found to reject the theory of evolution. In addition, the majority
indicated that they are religious. Those who were more observant were more likely than their less observant
counterparts to find evolution incompatible with their belief system and to renounce the theory of evolution.
Although 70% of the participants felt that they were adequately prepared to teach evolution, the data shows that
these student teachers have a poor understanding of evolution theory and that they harbour many misconceptions.
In fact, less than half of the students support the teaching of evolution in South African schools. The article
concludes with a number of recommendations.