Teachers' and pupils' perceptions of environmental education in selected primary schools of Chipata District of Zambia

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Zulu, Naomi Mwanza
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University of Zambia
This study was aimed at establishing Teachers’ and Pupils’ perceptions of Environmental Education in selected primary schools of Chipata District of Eastern Zambia. The study was targeted at exploring teachers’ and pupils’ perceptions regarding the integration of Environmental Education into the primary school curriculum and determine approaches used by teachers in its implementation. It was carried out in ten selected schools and comprised 130 respondents. The study was qualitative. Semi structured questionnaires and Focus Group Interview guides were used as instruments of data collection. A descriptive survey research design was adopted in order to collect in-depth data. Results showed that both teachers and pupils perceived Environmental Education as a means of acquiring knowledge and skills about the environment, which they mostly understood from the biophysical perspective; they had mixed perceptions about the integration of Environmental Education; the highest perception being that EE is integrated in all the subjects in the primary school curriculum while others perceived EE as only appearing in Integrated Science, Social studies, Creative and Technology Studies and extra curricula activities. On the contrary, some showed ignorance on integration of EE. Results further showed that due to an examination oriented curriculum followed in Zambia, teacher-centred methods were preferred to participatory methods when teaching EE. Challenges faced by teachers in teaching EE, included lack of knowledge and inadequate training in EE, lack of guidelines, an unclear syllabus, lack of teaching and learning resources coupled with large class size, lack of time and ineffective monitoring and evaluation mechanism. On the other hand, some pupils’ lacked reading skills. This hindered them from acquiring information on EE at individual level. Based on the challenges highlighted above, the study concluded that EE is not effectively taught in the study area and recommended that teachers, who are implementers of the curriculum should undergo retraining in order to re-sharpen their pedagogical skills. EE should also be included as an independent subject in order to help broaden its content, scope and status. Finally, government should increase funding to the education sector to support and sustain learning of EE through the mass media.
Environmental Education-Zambia , Environmental Education-Study and Teaching-Zambia