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News article8 March 2021

Supporting educators in the move away from animal use in science

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Moving away from animal use in science: why and how to introduce the Three Rs into secondary schools, universities and continuing education programmes
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In a recent report, the JRC makes the case for introducing teaching on the Three Rs - Replacement, Reduction and Refinement of animal experiments - into secondary schools, universities and continuing education programmes.

Raising awareness of the Three Rs among teachers and students is fundamental to accelerate the reduction and replacement of animal testing and to advance the uptake of alternative approaches in life science research.

“There is a clear need and opportunity for formal education on the Three Rs both in secondary schools and higher education”, says Marcelle Holloway, JRC scientist. “There are many school teachers and university lecturers across the EU who would like to introduce the topic to their students, but they struggle due to a lack of provision in curricula and a shortage of ready-to-use resources.”

In its report targeting not only teachers but also decision-makers within education systems, the JRC highlights how the Three Rs go hand in hand with scientific innovation; provide exciting learning opportunities for students, and open doors to exciting careers.

Learning scenarios: a key tool for educators

The report describes why and how to introduce the Three Rs into secondary schools, universities and continuing education programmes. It not only provides the ‘business case’ but also suggests how this can be achieved using different means.

Six learning scenarios have been developed in partnership with Three Rs experts, school and university educators, and the European Schoolnet. Learning scenarios provide a lesson structure containing background information on specific topics, lesson instructions, and a range of supporting education activities and resources.

They can be readily implemented by teachers or adapted according to their needs to introduce the Three Rs into their lessons, courses and programmes.

Other teaching resources

The learning scenarios have been complemented with a set of teaching resources, which can be found on the education and training section of the JRC’s EU Science Hub website.

  1. An online MOOC to help teachers become knowledgeable on the Three Rs;
  2. A series of infographics (PDF) with links to more dynamic content;
  3. A slide-set that teachers can use flexibly(PPT) (and can edit and re-purpose);
  4. A storyboard to accompany the slides (PDF), which can also be used to create new teaching material.

More to come on Three Rs education

The JRC intends to expand the catalogue of learning scenarios and teaching resources, and will continue reaching out to education decision makers and influencers to highlight the importance and benefits of integrating the Three Rs into the curriculum.

European legislation on the Three Rs

In the European Union, Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes fully embraces the principles of the Three Rs, to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals for experimental and educational purposes. It is mandatory to apply the Three Rs in all breeding, housing, care and use of animals in scientific procedures. The ultimate policy goal is to fully replace the use of animals in science.

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Introducing the Three Rs into secondary schools, universities and continuing education programmes

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Publication date
8 March 2021