Integrating environmental sustainability issues in the Zambian 2013 revised science curriculum at Junior Secondary School level

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Chilufya, Theresa
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This paper seeks to report on the research undertaken to determine the extent to which environmental sustainability issues had been integrated in the Zambian 2013 science education curriculum at junior secondary school level(grades 8 and 9). The research followed a descriptive survey employing both qualitative and quantitative approaches.This descriptive survey sought to determine the extent of integration of the 15 environmental sustainability issues as identified by the United Nations agenda 21 (section I and II). The researcher collected primary data using interview guide and questionnaires; a semi- structured interview guide was used. Secondary data was collected through the review of documents such as the curriculum, educational policy, curriculum framework and other curriculum documents, related to the study. The major areas in the science curriculum at junior level (grade 8 and 9) were divided into two major categories: Category A, integrated science with two sub categories; integrated science grade eight and integrated science grade nine; Category B, agricultural science with two subcategories; agricultural science grade eight and agricultural science grade nine. The research followed content analysis as a principal technique. The literature review revealed that integrating ‘environmental’ learning into main stream education is an important counter measure to address challenges to the sustainability of the earth and children’s integrated development. Furthermore, literature review revealed that a new way of educating our learners is required; one that empowers them with the capabilities and skills to seek out and examine their own frameworks for thinking. The new way is sustainability education. As sustainability is needed, it brings with it the need to change educational approaches by not just infusing issues in different subjects or curricular but as an inter-disciplinary course. The evidence from the literature review also indicatedthat if we are to achieve sustainable development, then science education must have a role in encouraging ecological thinking. Results showed that the three pillars or building blocks of sustainable development were dully represented in the 2013 science curriculum. However, more work had been done on topics dealing with ecological issues, social and economic and a bit on political issues. Additionally, more sustainability issues had been integrated in the agricultural science curriculum compared to integrated science curriculum. Furthermore, the curriculum had highly been re- arranged and learning levels raised. Results also indicated that stakeholders and pupil- respondents had knowledge on environmental sustainability issues. However, the knowledge they had was associated only with the ecological environment. Varied teaching methods had been identified. However, classroom-based approaches occupied proportionally more space and have remained the dominant modes of delivery across the two categories. It was also clear that there were little or no teaching and learning resources for both the old and the revised curriculum. Results also showed that environmental sustainability issues would highly be beneficial to learners and society at large once in the curriculum. Furthermore, the curriculum seemed to be bulk but a good and detailed guiding tool for the teacher, presenting clearly, the knowledge, skills and values needed to be passed on to the learner. The descriptive survey focused only on stakeholders and pupils in Central Province and on the information that was obtained through interviews and questionnaires.The research also focused on information from experts at CDC and review of curriculum documents such as the framework, syllabi for both integrated science and agricultural science and the policy document on education. Therefore, the findings of this study may not be a true representative of all other provinces in Zambia. The research indicated that within Zambia’s science education curriculum, a balance of issues (social, economic, ecological and political issues) on environmental sustainability is needed to develop learners’ potentials, values and skills. It also implies that environmental sustainability issues should be evenly distributed into the topics and sub- topics of the curriculum. The research also indicated the need to create innovations in delivery methods. Therefore, it is time to move beyond rhetoric and implement policies and programs that will allow Zambian schools realise the goal of creating “sustainability literate” and responsible learners. The research has addressed integration of environmental sustainability issues in the science education curriculum at junior level in Zambia and hasthus opened up various opportunities. It has also provided a starting point for investigations into activities that may have been missed by the current research. More importantly, it provides a base for the exploration of the 2013 revised curriculum.
Science Curriculum(Secondary) , Environmental Sustainability