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Indian teachers call for replacement of dissections and animal experiments

22 November 2009

Indian teachers call for replacement of dissections and animal
experiments; major financial investment in life science education made

Indian university teachers meeting in Jaipur, Rajasthan for a national
alternatives conference have concluded with a call for full replacement of
dissections and animal experiments.

In a Resolution (1) adopted unanimously at the 'National Workshop cum
Symposium on Potential Alternatives to Dissection and Animal
Experimentation in Zoology and the Practical Curriculum', 19-21 November
2009, the participants called on university Boards of Studies to remove
animal use from the syllabus.

With the main focus on zoology, teachers of anatomy, physiology and other
disciplines came from across Rajasthan and other states in India to learn
about alternatives and for hands-on practice with these innovative
learning tools. The experience of curricular change internationally and
across the country was shared in keynote, plenary and other presentations.
Participants were joined by representatives from the government agency
that regulates animal experimentation, the CPCSEA.

To support the process of replacement with alternatives, learning tools
worth over Euro 100,000 were distributed by the International Network for
Humane Education (InterNICHE) directly to the participants and other
teachers. 75 sets of 15 alternative CDs and DVDs, including advanced
anatomy software of the frog, dogfish, pigeon and earthworm, and several
virtual physiology labs, were donated. Further distribution will take
place across Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states, in what
comprises a major investment in Indian life science education.

Published in the Souvenir were Statements of Support from the Chief
Minister of Rajasthan, Mr Ashok Gehlot; from Mrs Maneka Gandhi, Chair of
People for Animals and Member of Parliament; from Vice Chancellors of all
the major universities of Rajasthan; from Mr Anjani Kumar, Director Member
Secretary of the CPCSEA; from international organisations; and from
professors, researchers and religious bodies from across the country.

The event is to be followed by a major international book, �Alternatives
to Dissection and Animal Experimentation in Life Science Education,
Research and Testing: A Manual for Universities and Colleges�, edited by B
K Sharma and N Jukes � to be published in 2010.

Dr B. K. Sharma, Head of Zoology at R L Saharia Government PG College,
Kaladera (Jaipur) (affiliated to the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur) and
the Organising Secretary of this UGC-sponsored National Workshop said, �We
are calling for a change in the mindset of educators, education
administrators, policy makers and politicians which should be followed by
major curricular transformation in zoology and other fields where
defenceless animals are used. It has been decades since the last
significant change, and we encourage all Boards of Study to meet on a
regular basis to address the pressing need for replacement of dissection
and animal experiments.�

Prof M A Akbarsha from the Faculty of Animal Science at Bharatidasan
University and the Chair of the Mahatma Gandhi Doerenkamp Centre for
Alternatives to the Use of Animals in Life Science Education, said, �The
evolution of zoology teaching and the growth of new disciplines like cell
and molecular biology, genetics and biodiversity studies has raised major
questions about the perceived importance and relevance of dissection.
Instead of taking animals into the lab we should use alternative
approaches, including respectfully studying them in their real habitats.�

Prof K K Sharma, Prof and Head of Zoology at MDS University, Ajmar, said,
�We are discouraging the use of dissection and are working towards its
total removal by replacement with humane alternatives. Our future
zoologists are trained not through killing but with software and models,
and the use of ethical fieldwork with a conservation and biodiversity
focus. It is high time that we ask right across the country what is the
best way to teach our students, and consider moving from dead biology to
live biology.�

Prof Reena Mathur from the Department of Zoology at University of
Rajasthan, Jaipur, and next year�s Head of Department, said, �We certainly
must stop all dissections and use alternative techniques to teach internal
morphology. As soon as I am Head I will ensure that this happens in my
Department through the Board of Studies and the UGC.�

Snehal Bhavsar, Founder Trustee of the Gujarat Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) and InterNICHE National Contact for India,
said, �Our wildlife is a national treasure and its use for dissections and
animal experiments in education is a scandal. I�m very happy that for the
first time in northern India teachers have taken the initiative to get
together on one platform and to call for full replacement. It is clear
that many zoology teachers are strongly against animal use and in favour
of better teaching methods.�

Nick Jukes, Co-ordinator of InterNICHE which sponsored the conference and
provided the alternatives that were distributed, said, �With widespread
replacement already achieved in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, the momentum for
curricular change is growing fast. The conference in Jaipur made clear the
commitment from teachers to best practice and humane education. With
international published studies so clearly demonstrating the pedagogical
superiority of alternatives, I am confident that the remaining obstacles
to modernisation will soon fall away.�

The event was sponsored by the University Grants Commission (UGC),
Department of Science & Technology (DST), InterNICHE and the International
Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals (IAAPEA). The Marchig
Animal Welfare Trust helped fund the distribution of alternatives.

Notes for editors:

(1) Resolution

We the participants:

1. Recognise that animals are sentient beings and that life in all its
forms should be fully respected

2. Recognise the pedagogical, ethical, environmental and economic
advantages of humane and innovative alternatives over harmful animal use
in life science education and training

3. Join the global movement for humane education and call for full
replacement of harmful animal use with alternatives

4. Recognise the importance of effective and ethical education and
training for future Indian professionals

5. Call on the Government of India, CPCSEA, UGC, Academic Councils, Boards
of Studies and educational institutes to work towards removing animal
experimentation and the dissection of purpose killed animals from the life
science syllabus, to develop and implement appropriate and effective laws,
regulations and guidelines to bring about replacement, and to provide
support for the implementation of alternatives

Nick Jukes
InterNICHE Co-ordinator

98 Clarendon Park Road
Leicester LE2 3AE

tel: +44 116 210 9652

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