Environmental education in secondary schools in metropolitan Durban : opportunities and constraints in the use of the natural environment

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The study is placed in the context of the development of Environmental Education and the integral role of fieldwork in fulfilling its objectives. The requirements of teachers regarding the use of natural areas for environmental/ecological fieldwork were investigated by means of two surveys which used open-ended questions and numerical rating scales. An exploratory postal survey of school principals was used to investigate the current use of natural areas by schools and the relative importance of constraints upon fieldwork. It was found that, while most White schools made some formal use of natural areas, fewer Asian and Coloured schools did so, and fieldwork amongst Black schools was almost non-existent. Extra curricular fieldwork was primarily a phenomenon in White schools. Constraints varied in importance between schools in different education departments but overall a lack of teacher training in fieldwork was the major constraint. Interviews with a sample of teachers who had used natural areas provided detailed information on their environmental/ecological fieldwork requirements. Three hypotheses relating to factors influencing teacher choice of fieldwork sites were tested. In this regard it was found that certain intrinsic characteristics of natural areas, and the availability of teaching resources (including site-specific training and educational field officers) were important influences. Increasing transport costs, while often a secondary consideration, may increase the future demand for local fieldwork sites. The specific characteristics and facilities required of natural areas were investigated in detail. The study concluded that the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System has considerable potential to meet the environmental fieldwork requirements of schools. Towards this end a set of criteria for selecting appropriate natural areas, and a list of priorities for developing them, were established.

Bibliography: leaves 168-177.