Eastern Europe

Humane education in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan

In the former Soviet states Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, painful animal experiments for educational purposes are still common. Animal protection is more or less unknown, as well as the possibilities of non-animal teaching methods. With a lecture and presentation tour at eight universities in these countries we have now taken first steps to raise awareness for a more humane approach in higher education.

The impulse came from our member Inna Yankovskaya, doctor in Dortmund, Germany, who studied in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, and who told us about the appalling animal experiments that she had to perform there.

With the help of InterNICHE, the International Network for Humane Education, the outreach project was extended from initially one to eight universities in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzia. In May / June 2012, Dimitrij Leporskij, our project coordinator in Ukraine, and Nick Jukes, Coordinator, of InterNICHE set off on a five week journey through the two Central Asian countries.

The project was organized by InterNICHE and partly funded by our organization, by InterNICHE and some other sponsors.

The first stop was at Tashkent Medical Academy in Uzbekistan. About 30 million people are living In this Central Asian country, thereof two million in the capital Tashkent .

First of all, a serious problem had to be overcome: In Uzbekistan, foreigners are only allowed to give lectures at universities with approval of the Ministry of Education. Nick and Dimitrij only learned about that upon arrival. However, the issue was solved by the teachers and the first lecture could take place.

Nick Jukes had traveled from the UK with 100 kg and Dimitrij Leporskij from Ukraine with 30 kg of demonstration material, including computer software, DVDs and mannekins. 

The Medical Academy was surprisingly well equipped with technical devices. Here, its just the know-how and the software lacking. The interest of the teachers at the two-day event was tremendously large.

In the office of Prof. A. Bokhodir Magrupov (right), Head of the Department of Normal, Pathological Physiology and Anatomy. In the course of physiology of the department animal experiments were significantly reduced already ten years ago. The head of the course on normal physiology, Oisha T. Alyaeva (center), is a real pioneer in this field. She had contacted the American company Biopac which manufactures devices for student self-experiments, and insisted that the instructions must be in Russian. The company responded by providing a Russian translation and even sent a technician to set up the device.

Tashkent State Agriculture University, Faculty of Zootechnics.

About 75 professors and graduate students were interested in the presentation. Nick's talks were translated into Russian by Dimitrij. Having been part of the Soviet Union in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan Russian is widely spoken and understood. At some events university employees also assisted with translations in the respective local language.

Dog "Jerry" is a mannekin with which heart and lung diseases can be simulated and emergency situations practiced.

Surgical training models.

The Agricultural University has a brand new, cutting-edge communication center including a computer room with 100 computers! Events can be transmitted via conference call to universities across the country. These are perfect conditions for a transition to humane teaching and we do not even need to sponsor hardware, as we often need to for the rather poorly equipped Ukranian universities. We only need to provide the appropriate software.

At Samarkand State Agriculture University, 300 km south of Tashkent. This contact came through an animal rights activist from Tashkent. As this visit was not prepared to the same extent as the others, there was first a meeting with the director Prof. E. Toshtemir Ostanakulov (2nd from right). Moreover, we again had to overcome the issue that foreigners are not allowed to give lecturers without approval of the Ministry. The teachers helped.

After two days of preparation, the event could take place.

About 50 employees of the Department of Anatomy, Pharmacology and Surgery and the Department of Animal Diseases participated.

The humane teaching material could be tried out by the participants themselves.

Great interest.

The university owns an impressive anatomical collection.

Some models are already available.

The journey continued to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan with 900,000 inhabitants. 5.5 million people live in this country, which is more than twice the size of Austria.

At the Kyrgyzian State Medical Academy Nicks and Dimitrijs lectures again received much positive feedback.

120 interested listeners from different institutes of the Academy of Medicine and B. Yeltsin Kyrgyzian-Russian-Slavic University.

An often convincing argument: Humane teaching tools are not only better for ethical reasons but also ensure a better didactic teaching. Due to the poor economic situation of the country, Kyrgyz universities by far are not as well equipped as those in Uzbekistan. The Academy has abandoned a part of the common animal experiments for financial reasons and instead uses old digitized educational films from the Soviet times.

Dimitrij Leporskij being interviewed by a journalist.

One of four articles in Kyrgyz newspapers.

Dr. Gunther von Hagens, the "plastinator" from Heidelberg, Germany, had lived and worked in Bishkek for several years. His exhibition "Body Worlds" with plastinated corpses is famous throughout the world.

He left behind a large collection of plastinated exhibits - ideal for a medical school.

At Arabaev Kyrgyzian State University in Bishkek, among others, biology and chemistry are taught with an emphasis on teacher’s training.

Again, the interest was impressive.

Nick is presenting a model for practicing microsurgical procedures.

Surgery can be practised on an artificial dog leg.

Mannekin dog “Jerry” was again very popular.

Nick and Dimitrij during their presentation at the Skryabin Kyrgyzian National Agriculture University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Biotechnology, the fourth stop in Bishkek.

Again there was great interest.

The Zoological Museum of the University.

A self-made cow phantom for veterinary medicine students to practice obstetrics.

Nick with Nikoloy V. Podgorny, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Surgery (left) and Prof K. Bekbosun Aknazarov, Dean of the faculty (right).

The last stop of the tour was Osh, a town located 600 km southwest of Bishkek.

Osh State University, Faculty of Medicine and Biology.

Nick and Dimitrij in the office of the Dean of the Medical Faculty, Mamadgan A. Arstanbekov.

180 spectators gathered in the auditorium, including 23 professors. The medical faculty consists of 18 departments, of which 11 were represented.

Two students with our Russian leaflet "Why we are opposed to animal experiments."

At the University of Osh there is no animal housing facility. Students have to catch frogs and purchase rats to conduct experiments. We will stop this.

This lecture and presentation tour through the two Central Asian countries which was initiated and partly funded by us and conducted in collaboration with InterNICHE was a great success! Nick Jukes and Dimitrij Leporskij informed about 600 teacher, employees and students at eight universities in four cities about a humane education and aroused great interest in this topic. The first seeds are sown. We will continue reporting on the progress of this exciting project.

We would be delighted to receive support for our projects in Eastern Europe >>

Further information

Overview of the whole project (in German) >>

Trilingual Website (German, Ukrainian, Russian)