The importance of a dynamic school curriculum in the promotion of environmental ethics in Kenya schools
Otieno, Dorcas Beryl
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This study was prompted by the degraded state of environment in Kenya and the apparent lack of response to the problem. It examined environmental ethics in the school curriculum and environmental management practices of the learners within the context of an eco-school model. Holistic ethics was the main core of the study. Other analysed approaches to environmental ethics included Utilitarian, Pathocentric, Natural Law, Biospheric, Reverence for life, Religious, African, Ecofeminist and Pragmatic ethics. The research employed a survey and participated methods of data collection. The sample of the survey included 720 respondents (240 students and 480 teachers) randomly selected from primary and secondary schools from three districts of Kenya namely Kakamega, Kajiado and Nairobi. Content analysis, interview and observation schedules, students' attitude tests and essays were used to enhance data. Obtained data were analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively according to emerging themes of environmental ethics. Using the fundamental elements of the eco-school model, the study evaluated the potential of Environmental Action Learning (EAL) as a strategy for instilling values in the learners. The evaluation focused on Nairobi schools, which have composite variety of environmental impacts. The study revealed that there are several environment development conflicts, which clearly show the need for environmental ethics education (EEE) to produce citizens who would make value judgement regarding environmental issues in Kenya. Despite this realization, content analysis revealed that both primary and secondary textbooks were permeated with utilitarian ethics, which was responsible for the destruction of the environment. Most of the environmental ethics were presented as facts and not dilemmas and so they did not stimulate logical and moral reasoning in the learners. It was also established that there is some overlap between subjects and environmental ethics. This overlap did not influence learners' attitudes and behaviour. Students' perception of, love, sympathy for nature and protection of the environment were not reflected in their essays. Teachers, on the other hand, attributed this to non-incorporation of ethics in the school subjects, its absence in the syllabus and lack of training. Most of the teachers used lecture method as opposed to more interactive ones like audio-visuals, laboratory, case studies, simulation games, community projects and role-playing exercises. In addition, moral development, value clarification, inculcation and action learning strategies were not fully utilized. Dormancy of environmental clubs in the schools, overloaded curriculum, lack of time and resources were found to affect environmental learning. Pilot study on the potential of Environmental Action Learning (EAL) in schools in Nairobi revealed that there is need to improve environmental ethics education in schools by designing a clear policy on EAL, the integration of EAL in the curriculum; mounting an intensive teacher-training and public awareness programme; networking; availing resources and facilities for EAL including professional services from environmental education centres. Recommendations of the pilot study and main study are presented in chapter nine and ten of the thesis respectively.