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Integrating environmental education in primary school education in Tanzania: teachers' perceptions and teaching practices.
Turku, Univ., Doktorarbeit, 2011
Abstract: The study focuses on primary school teachers′ perceptions of environmental education, its integration into primary school education and teachers′ teaching practices in Tanzania. The thesis is based on empirical research. The theoretical underpinnings of the study are based on Palmer′s (1998) model of environmental education. According to the model, meaningful environmental education should include education about, in or through and for the environment.
The study is supported by national and international literature from research done on environmental education and education for sustainable development and policy statements. The study is qualitative in nature, adopting phenomenography and phenomenology as points of departure. The empirical data was collected from four primary schools in Morogoro region in Tanzania. The study sample consisted of 31 primary school teachers. Data was collected through interviews and lesson observations.
According to the results of the study, primary school teachers expressed variations in their perceptions of environmental education and education for sustainable development. Most of the teachers focused on the aspect of knowledge acquisition. According to Tanzanian education and training policy, environmental education has to be integrated into all subjects. Although there is environmental education in the primary school curriculum, it is not integrated on an equal footing in all subjects. Some subjects like science, social studies and geography have more environmental content than other subjects. Teachers claim that the approach used to integrate environmental education into the school curriculum was not favoured because many claimed that what is to be taught as environmental education in the various subjects is not shown clearly. As a result, many teachers suggested that to ensure that it is taught properly it should be included in the curriculum as an independent subject or as specific topics.
The study revealed that teachers′ teaching practices in integrating environmental education varied from one subject to another. Although most of the teachers said that they used participatory methods, lesson observations showed that they limited themselves to question and answer and group discussion. However, the teachers faced a number of barriers in the teaching of environmental education, some of which include lack of teaching and learning resources, time and large class size.
The role of teachers in the implementation of environmental education in developing an environmentally literate citizenry is of great significance. The responsibility of the government in developing a curriculum with clear goals and content, developing teachers′ capacity in the teaching of environmental
education and provision of teaching and learning materials needs to be taken seriously by the government in educational plans and programs.