Re-living Nyanja storytelling in the envronmental education of selected children of Lusaka, Zambia

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Mulala, Ruwe Yvonne
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Like many developing countries, Zambia faces challenges of disappearing intangible cultural heritage such as languages and, therefore, the country’s education system needs to devise deliberate measures to deal with such a challenge. Linked to the disappearing indigenous languages are stories or folktales of such languages which also require to be salvaged through education. This study took up this challenge and, through the agency of environmental education within the context of the Lusaka Museum. The general aim was achieved through the following specific objectives; (a)to collect and document indigenous Nyanja folktales that existed at the time of conducting the study in the year 2014, (b) show the role that traditional stories could play in the teaching of contemporary Environmental Education to children of Lusaka and the Zambian community at large and compile traditional Nyanja folktales; and (c) to evaluate children’s and adult’s views on the effectiveness of traditional stories and the preservation of Zambia’s intangible heritage.The research involved both qualitative and quantitative research designs, and it was non-experimental, explanatory and descriptive in nature.Methods of data collection were focus group discussion, interviews and self administered questionnaires. Narratives as a method of analyzing qualitative data was used. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The sample comprised 115 respondents. This comprised 80 pupils and 4 teachers from four schools selected on the basis of the Nyanja language being taught as a subject in their schools and being spoken by the majority of the children in Lusaka District. In addition 20 children from the community who visited the Lusaka Museum, 2 respondents from two orphanages, 4 from Government Ministries, 5 elderly Nyanja speakers from the community were used.The key findings show that asignificant percentage of the sampled pupils(73.3 percent) agreed that it was important to do storytelling when teaching about our environment and among the reasons given was that storytelling was the best way of imparting knowledge towards the environment. Secondly, of the sampled Nyanja speakers 80 percent indicated that they knew atleast one folktale in Nyanja. Folktales also teach about the natural environment such as trees, rivers, lands and all features of the environment. On the roles of storytelling in the teaching and learning of environmental education, respondents indicated that children are taught to be conscious about the environment. Thirdly, sampled teachers that taught Nyanja stated that pupils who came from private schools had challenges in understanding Nyanja which made it difficult for them to teach Nyanja. They further indicated that storytelling taught learners how to take care of the environment. Teachers identified activities such as singing, discussion and writing to be part of storytelling sessions. All the sampled institution managers interviewed understood environmental education as education through any channel that develops skills, provides knowledge and imparts values that promote behavior which is in support of sustainable environment. One key recommendation arising from the research results is that there should be greater access to quality materials by institutions implementing environmental education activities.
Environmental Education