Secondary school students' perspectives of environmental Quality in Kenya: a case study ofBungoma District
TOILI, William Wanjala
MetadataShow full item record
Concern had been raised to the effect that Secondary. School students in Kenya lacked conservation principles in their day-to-day lives. In light of this, it was the purpose of this study to understand the meanings the Secondary school students attributed to the quality of their local environments. To do this a phenomenological theoretical framework was employed. This had not been used in the earlier studies identified in the literature. This allowed the use of qualitative research methods that enabled the students to reveal their innermost dispositions with regard to their perceptions and extent to which they participated in fostering environmental quality. The study was significant because it contributed to a deeper understanding of the students' social actions and behaviours in their local environments. It also attempted to gain a phenomenological understanding of the person - environment relationship. Moreover, it evolved a model for evaluating environmental education programs. The review of literature showed that research on students' perspectives of environmental quality and the extent to which they participated in its conservation was rare. This was attributed to the use of research approaches that were not interpretive in nature. In light of this, the study employed a phenomenological paradigm to invoke students' perspectives of environmental quality. The study was carried out in two phases. In the pilot study which lasted for eight months, a purposive sample of 60 students at Busakala Secondary School in Bungoma District participated as key informants. ~~~u.K.h in-depth interv~ews, document analysis and observations, the students' perspectives of the quality of their local environments were depicted. The data were thematically analysed. The themes that emerged were incorporated in the questionnaire, which was used to validate the data in the main study. The questionnaire was administered to a purposive sample of 272 students in the main study. Achievement tests in environmental education were also administered to the students. The students were selected from 22 secondary schools in Bungoma District. The schools were randomly selected from a total of 111 schools. xv The data were analysed qualitatively to determine students' environmental perspectives. The results of the study showed that most students who participated in the study had not developed requisite environmental knowledge, which would enable them, participate in positive environmental action. Due to lack of requisite knowledge the students' perception of the various attributes of environmental quality was inadequate. The results showed that most students only recognized the interacting factors of the simpler environmental processes that effected the quality of their local environments but not the more complex ones. Although they also identified the attributes of a quality environment the students still held misconceptions about the various attributes of environmental quality. For example they were unable to discern visual pollution, aesthetics, and biodiversity conservation in their local environments. The study further indicated that most students did not adequately participate in protecting and improving the quality of their environment. The limited participation was attributed to the fact that the students did not posses dynamic qualities and adequate environmental knowledge and awareness. This was attributed to students' own beliefs, cultural values, and the failure of the schools to expose them to a fruitful environmental education program. It was concluded that the students' limited environmental action was not due to indifference or apathy. Rather it was due to the lack of dynamic qualities buttressed by the students' own beliefs, cultural values, ethos of the schools, instructional methods, and the nature of external examinations all of which did not encourage acquisition of the necessary practical skills and values. These factors affected their overall perspectives of environmental quality, which were chiefly anthropocentric in nature. Several essential recommendations are made for the reorganization of environmental education in secondary schools in order to make it more effective. These include immediate reassessment by policy makers of environmental education content witha view to harmonising it in the school curriculum and establishment of a Department of Environmental Education in the Ministry of Education to co-ordinate its implementation. There is also need for curriculum developers and evaluators to develop a framework for the teaching and evaluation of environmental education in schools. It is xvi also recommended that schools should adopt a "whole school approach" to the teaching and learning of environmental education as one essential way of informing their ethos. In addition, it is recommended that teachers should approach environmental issues o practically. Further research should be done regarding the contribution of environmental awareness and attitudes in environmental action. There is also need to find the relationship between environmental action and other variables such as gender, ecological zones, sex composition of the school and subject areas of study. Besides, it is recommended that further research be done regarding the various pedagogical strategies, which fostered the development of dynamic qualities in students and the development of instruments to measure these qualities.
- School of Education