Identifying the Barriers to Implementing Education for Sustainable Development in Kenyan Secondary Schools: a Case of Southlands of Nairobi

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Njeru, Alex Ndaru
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Despite the declaration of the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and its accompanying global awareness of the need for sustainable development, the entire concept of ESD has not been wholly integrated in the curriculum. As such most people including teachers and students have limited understanding of ESD. This has led to increased unsustainable lifestyles, development patterns and environmental problems. This research therefore sought to identify the barriers to implementing Education for Sustainable Development in Kenyan secondary schools in Nairobi’s southlands. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected using questionnaires, Interview schedules and content analysis of secondary data. Descriptive statistics which included percentages and frequency distributions were used for data analysis. Results obtained showed that while schools acknowledged the importance of ESD and the undisputed need to have it embraced wholly in the school curricula as well as their desire to fully understand its concept, they had limited knowledge of ESD and observed that it was poorly implemented in the curricula. As a result, most respondents in the different categories interviewed did not recognize the vital role that ESD can play in addressing issues of national and societal importance like tribalism, marginalization, insecurity and good governance. They instead perceived ESD as mainly building on environmental Education, addressing issues of environmental conservation and pollution control, as well as HIV/AIDS. It was also noted that the teachers’ and students’ understanding of ESD was inadequate and only knew its basics or just some of its aspects, as compared to the key informants who were mainly advocates of the sustainability concept embedded in ESD. Barriers to implementing ESD in schools included inadequate access to teaching, financial and other material resources, the increase in profit driven private schools, insufficient time allocation for in-service training for secondary teachers, and the poor implementation of Government policies. The Students interviewed observed that ESD should be introduced in the curriculum as a distinct subject on its own, and have an accompanying trained teacher to teach it, while the teachers only hoped that their students would comprehensively learn about ESD in higher institutions of learning. There was a unanimous agreement among all the respondent categories that the Government, Civil society and development partners had an important role to play in implementing ESD in schools. This was in contrast to their rating of the private sector as an important player in implementing ESD, whereby only the key informants rated this sector as very important (95%) in information dissemination and public sensitization on development issues, compared to only 5% of both teachers and students rating it as such. There fore, to overcome the barriers to implementing ESD in schools, there is the undisputed need to partner and build on the necessary identified strategies and opportunities. As such, there is need to teach EE in schools as a means of introducing ESD, facilitate and encourage the involvement of students in extra curricula activities, emphasize on the organization of more environmental lectures and seminars as well as source for additional funding and support from the Government and Development partners. A participatory in and out of the classroom ESD implementation programme between teachers and students should also be emphasized, given the inclination of the global ESD initiative towards practical skills development.
Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development, 105p. The LB1607.53 .K4N52 2010
Education, Secondary --Kenya, Sustainable development --Kenya