Implementing education for sustainable development : the role of geography in South African secondary schools

Dube, Carolina (2012-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Includes bibliography

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) (2004-2015), better teaching and learning of environmental education and education for sustainable development (EE and ESD) in schools is one of the main responses to the worsening state of the global environment. Environmental concerns are integrated into the South African school curricula; in the General Education and Training (Grades R-9) (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET) phases through the principles that underpin the curricula such as social justice, a healthy environment, human rights and inclusivity. While a cross-curricula approach to teaching and learning is followed in the GET phase, environmental concerns are infused in each subject at FET level. Because geography deals with human-environment relationships and is interdisciplinary, it is considered to be one of the main vehicles for teaching EE and ESD. To respond to the need for better teaching and learning of EE and ESD during the DESD, the main aim of this research project was to find out how EE and ESD are being implemented through the geography curriculum in South African secondary schools at FET level. The investigation sought answers to questions related to: opportunities for teaching EE and ESD in the geography National Curriculum Statement; the geography teachers’ perspectives on EE and ESD; the extent to which the teachers incorporate the teaching of EE and ESD in the geography lessons; pedagogical approaches used by the geography teachers; and, the barriers to teaching environmental concerns through the geography curriculum. A qualitative case study research design, underpinned by the interpretive research paradigm, was used. A sample of 10 senior geography teachers comprising 8 males and 2 females participated in the study. They were drawn from five Western Cape secondary schools selected through purposeful sampling in such a way that the sample of schools is representative of the socio-economic and sociocultural context of the Western Cape as far as possible. Data were generated from biographic questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Data were also generated from lesson observation and the analysis of documents such as the geography NCS, work schedules and lesson plans. The use of different research instruments ensured the triangulation of data sources in order to address issues of validity and reliability. The qualitative data were then analysed through thematic analysis. The study found that the sustainable development theme is central to the curriculum. Additionally, strategies of implementing EE and ESD such as the enquiry approach, the issues-based approach and the need to impart critical thinking skills are suggested in the curriculum. The teacher participants experience conceptual barriers concerning the nature of EE and ESD and that of notion of integrated geography promoted by the curriculum document. As a result, some of the teacher participants have difficulties in identifying EE and ESD themes in the curriculum document and incorporating them in the lessons. Furthermore, the teacher participants have difficulties in distinguishing learner activities from learnercentred approaches underpinned by constructivist learning theories as observed by Janse van Rensburg & Lotz-Sisitka (2000) and in using the enquiry learning approach. Some teacher participants prefer using traditional teacher-centred approaches which enable them to finish syllabuses in time for examinations. The use of learner-centred approaches such as fieldwork is hindered by barriers such as shortage of resources, class time, large classes, deteriorating discipline, heavy workload and policy contradiction. This study revealed a gap between policy rhetoric and practice in the teacher participants’ efforts to implement EE and ESD through the geography NCS.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Beter omgewingsopvoeding-onderrig en -leer van volhoubare ontwikkeling (OO/OVO) in skole is een van die hoofresponse op die toenemende agteruitgang in die toestand van die wêreldomgewing in die Dekade van Opvoeding vir Volhoubare Ontwikkeling (DOVO) (2004-2015). OO/OVO is geïntegreer in die Suid-Afrikaanse skoolkurrikulum; in die Algemene Onderwys en Opleidingfase (Grade R tot 9) (AOO) en die Verdere Onderwys en Opleidingsfase (VOO) deur die beginsels wat die leerplan onderlê soos sosiale geregtigheid, ‘n gesonde omgewing, menseregte en inklusiwiteit. Alhoewel ‘n kruiskurrikulêre benadering tot onderrig en leer in die AOO-fase gevolg word, word OO/OVO by elke vak op die VOO-vlak geïntegreer. Omdat geografie oor mens-omgewingverhoudings handel en interdissiplinêr is, word die vak as een van die hoofvoertuie vir die onderwys van OO/OVO beskou. Om op die behoefte vir beter onderrig en leer van OO/OVO tydens die DOVO te reageer, is die hoofdoel van hierdie navorsingsprojek om vas te stel hoe OO/OVO deur die geografiekurrikulum in Suid-Afrikaanse sekondêre skole op VOO-vlak geïmplimenteer word. Die ondersoek het antwoorde gesoek op vrae wat verband hou met: geleenthede vir die onderrig van OO/OVO in die geografie Nasionale Kurrikulumverklaring (NKV); die perspektiewe van geografie-onderwysers oor OO/OVO; die mate waartoe onderwysers die onderrig van OO/OVO in geografie-lesse inkorporeer; die pedagogiese benaderings wat geografie-onderwysers gebruik; en die hindernisse ten opsigte van die onderrig van OO/OVO in die geografie-kurrikulum. ‘n Kwalitatiewe gevallestudie-navorsingsontwerp, ondersteun deur die interpretatiewe navorsingsparadigma, is ingespan. ‘n Steekproef van 10 senior geografie-onderwysers, bestaande uit agt mans en twee vroue is by die studie betrek. Hulle is uit vyf Wes-Kaapse sekondêre skole geselekteer deur middel van doelgerigte steekproefneming op so ‘n wyse dat die monster van skole so ver moontlik die sosiaal-ekonomiese en sosiaal-kulturele kontekste van die Wes-Kaap weerspieël. Inligting is verkry uit biografiese vraelyste en semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, asook deur waarneming van lesse en deur die ontleding van dokumente soos die NKV vir geografie, werkskedules en lesplanne. Die van verskillende navorsingsinstrumente is gebruik ter ondersteunin van die triangulasie van data ten einde geldigheids- en betroubaarheidskwessies aan te spreek. Die kwalitatiewe data is daarna aan tematiese ontleding onderwerp. Die studie bevind dat volhoubare ontwikkeling ‘n sentrale tema in die kurrikulum is. Daarbenewens word strategieë om OO/OVO te implementeer, soos die ondersoekleerbenadering, die kwessiegebaseerde benadering en die behoefte om kritiese denkvaardighede te ontwikkel, in die kurrikulum voorgestel. Die onderwyserdeelnemers ervaar konseptuele hindernisse met betrekking tot die aard van OO/OVO en die nosie van geïntegreerde geografie wat die kurrikulumdokument bevorder. Gevolglik vind sommige onderwyserdeelnemers dit moeilik om OO/OVO in die leerplandokument te identifiseer en in hul lesse te inkorporeer. Verder ondervind die onderwyserdeelnemers probleme om leerderaktiwiteite te onderskei van die leerdergesentreerde benaderings wat onderlê word deur konstruktiwistiese leerteorieë soos deur Janse van Rensburg & Lotz-Sisitka (2000) waargeneem en om die ondersoekleerbenadering te gebruik. Sommige onderwyserdeelnemers verkies om tradisionele onderwysergesentreerde benaderings wat hulle in staat stel om kurrikula betyds vir eksamens af te handel. Die gebruik van leerdergesentreerde benaderings soos veldwerk word gestrem deur belemmeringe soos hulpbrontekorte, beperkte klastyd, groot klassse, verswakkende dissipline, hoë werklading en teenstrydighede in die beleid. Die studie het ‘n gaping tussen beleidsretoriek en die praktyk in die onderwyserdeelnemers se pogings om OO/OVO te implementeer wat in die geografie NKV ingewerk is, uitgewys.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/71683
This item appears in the following collections: