Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

The Promotion of Sustainable Environmental Education by the Zimbabwe Ordinary Level Science Syllabi

Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

The Promotion of Sustainable Environmental Education by the Zimbabwe Ordinary Level Science Syllabi

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Creating an environmentally literate citizenry is one of the important goals secondary school education is mandated to achieve (Schild, 2016; Jegstad & Sinnes, 2015). Environmental education is therefore integrated in the subjects offered in secondary school. The integration of environmental education in the school subjects has philosophical and instructional strategy implications. Of significance is the promotion of sustainable development through environmental chemistry education (Eilks, 2015; Warner & Elsier, 2015). As a way of tackling challenges of unsustainable social, economic and environmental development through ESD, the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005-2014 was coordinated at a global level by the United Nations (United Nations, 2002; Dawe, Jucker & Martin, 2005). Following the above impetus, there are notable efforts in chemistry education to foster ESD (Burmeister &Eilks, 2012; Eissen, 2012). One significant way of implementing the environmental dimension of ESD has been done through the integration green chemistry principles (Burmeister, Rauch & Eilks, 2012, Eilks and Rauch, 2012; Karpudewan, Ismail & Roth, 2012). Green chemistry is based on the 12 principles as propounded by Anastas and Warner, 1998. Summarised, the principles advocate for the prevention of excessive generation of waste, the reduction of excessive consumption of materials including energy and the prevention of the release of hazardous chemicals into the environment (Karpudewan et al., 2012, Garner, Siol & Eilks, 2015; Warner & Elsier, 2015). Instructional strategy implications include the use of local place examples as a springboard to understand global environmental issues. The instructional strategy is at the heart of place-based pedagogy and ESD (Davis, 2000).

Given the contribution of chemistry and the chemistry industry to the 21st century environmental challenges, learners should understand and be able to evaluate chemistryrelated processes and products and the manner in which they affect the future (Jegstad & Sinnes, 2015; Mandler, Mamlok-Naaman, Blonder, Yayon & Hofstein, 2012). Science education aims to equip learners with the ability to use science knowledge in everyday life by making informed decisions to improve the quality of life (Holbrook, 2009). Environmental issues and concerns are an integral part of everyday life. It has become an imperative of environmental education to inculcate in learners environmentally responsible behaviours (Schild, 2016; Stanisic & Maksic, 2014). The inculcation of environmentally has implications on the nature of instructional strategies in the science classrooms. One way to ensure that learners begin to develop skills to care for places is the use of placed-based pedagogies in environmental education (Spahiu, Korca & Lindemann-Mathies, 2014).

Set amidst the global green chemistry and sustainable development initiatives the rural poor in Africa rely on the local natural resources such as forests, land and water for sustenance (Somorin, 2010). Similarly, the livelihoods of populations in Zimbabwean rural areas are intricately connected to their forests, land and water for domestic and agricultural activities. Historically rural areas in Zimbabwe were created as settlement areas for Africans during the colonial era. These areas were agro-ecologically unfavourable and the people were deprived of meaningful livelihoods and banished to ever-deepening conditions of poverty (Thebe, 2012). The areas are overpopulated as people share the available natural resources with their domestic animals. Overpopulation, poor environmental management practices combined with a land tenure system that promotes overgrazing and monoculture are some of the major causes of environmental degradation in the rural areas of Zimbabwe (Chagumbura et al., 2016). Chifamba (2011) suggests that the land use practices have contributed to the hostile changes observed on the hydrological cycle. …

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