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Indian Teachers Call for Replacement of Dissection

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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 in 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 50 lakh Rs. were distributed by the International Network for Humane Education (InterNICHE) directly to the participants and other teachers. InterNICHE donated 75 sets of 15 alternative CDs and DVDs, including advanced anatomy software of the frog, dogfish, pigeon and earthworm, and several virtual physiology labs. 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 organizations; and from professors, researchers and religious bodies from across the country.

The event is to be followed by a major publication entitled �Alternatives to Dissection and Animal Experimentation in Life Science Education, Research and Testing: A Manual for Universities and Colleges�, edited by Dr. B K Sharma and Mr. Nick Jukes � to be published in 2010. This is an internationally geared project and Cambridge Scholars Publishing (CSP) has accepted the same for publication though other publication houses abroad are being approached, of which Springer is one that has shown keen interest.

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 Organizing 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 life science/ zoology and other fields where defenseless animals are being killed and used for imparting training and education. 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.� Email: b_ksharma@hotmail.

Prof. MA 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, Ajmer, 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 time that we ask right across the country what is the best way to teach our students, and to 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.�

Mrs 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-coordinator of the International Network for Humane Education (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 modernization will soon fall away.�

The event was sponsored by the UGC, DST, InterNICHE and the International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals (IAAPEA).

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


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