Role of environmental education in addressing effects of coal mining in Zambia's Maamba Township
Siambwati, Cheelo Mavis
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The need for Environmental Education (EE) in sectors of the economy like mining cannot be over - emphasized. Though contributing to the revenue of the nation, mining produces negative effects which greatly affect people in mining towns. This study explored how Environmental Education could be used to address such negative effects of coal mining in Zambia‟s Maamba Township of Sinazongwe District. The study further assessed the availability and types of EE programmes and suggests alternative ways by which EE could be used among residents. The study used a qualitative approach, and specifically a descriptive survey, in data collection and analysis. Gaia theory on nature was used to guide the study. Respondents were drawn from various locations of Maamba Township, such as Maamba Hospital, Rural Council, Mine offices, Schools and the residential area. Data was obtained using open and closed ended questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, Focus group discussions as well as observations on site. Main findings of the study indicate that residents of Maamba Township received inadequate Environmental Education which did not even include the negative impacts of coal mining on their lives. The EE programmes that were in place did not involve the residents in any way. The study established that Environmental Education could be key to addressing negative effects of mining, such as polluted water, air and soils since EE‟s major role was to increase people's knowledge and awareness about the environment and associated challenges so as to develop necessary skills and expertise to address such challenges. To this effect, a programme was designed together with relevant stakeholders to try and minimize the identified negative effects. Based on findings of this study, key recommendations have been made. Firstly, all stakeholders, especially those at the grassroots like the residents should be fully involved from the planning stage up to evaluation stage of EE programmes. Secondly, EE programmes should include information about negative effects of coal mining on residents. Thirdly, there is urgent need to have EE as a standalone subject in schools so that it is taught from the foundation stage up to tertiary level.
- Education