Evaluation of the effectiveness of pre-school curriculum in promoting environmental conservation and sustainability ethics in Kiambaa District, Kenya
Miringu, Eunice N
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Degradation of the environment caused by unsustainable use of resources is a global concern. Environmental education is a vital tool in the development of enlightened opinion and responsible actions towards the environment. Evaluation of the effectiveness of early childhood education curriculum in promoting environmental conservation and sustainability ethics in pre-school children is therefore very crucial. The concern is whether the curriculum has an impact on the behavior of children regarding concern and respect for the environment since they are the adults of tomorrow. The study is based on the premise that early childhood years are important for grounding important values, attitudes, and beliefs. The research was a case study using ex post facto design. It was an in-depth investigation of a group of pre-school children in Kiambaa District in Kenya. The factors that may have led to their environmental conservation and sustainability ethics were determined retrospectively. The population in the study included pre-schools in Kiambaa District, pre-school children, teachers, managers of the pre-schools and parents. ECE curriculum developers were also included. The instruments included interview schedules for teachers and children, questionnaires for parents, teachers and curriculum developers, observation schedule for the children and documentary analysis schedule. Questionnaires were hand delivered and self administered while interviews were on a face to face basis. Observations were done in the pre-schools and in addition documents were examined. Data was analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively then presented in form of tables and charts with percentages of the responses. Some of the data was presented in a narrative manner. The research findings indicated that the content of EE is not explicitly stated in the ECE curriculum guidelines. Methods and activities suggested in the syllabus seem not to cover environmental conservation and sustainability. Moreover, teachers are not innovative enough to incorporate environmental conservation activities in the learning process. Similarly, the examination oriented culture of the current education system is not heuristic. Teachers use lecture method while project work and educational visits are viewed as waste of time. Low level of responsiveness towards environmental conservation was observed in many children. It was evident that many did not have knowledge about conservation and therefore lacked moral sense regarding conservation of environment. Practice at school and home reflected lack of involvement in conservation activities. In addition, parental involvement seemed to contribute to lack of consistency in guiding the children. Similarly, failure to involve children in local environmental conservation activities appears to deny them a chance to understand their responsibility as members of the community. In concluding, the ECE curriculum was found to be ineffective in promoting conservation and sustainability ethics in the children. This was indicated by low level of responsiveness and moral sense regarding conservation as well as lack of positive attitude towards conservation activities. The recommendations made subsequent to the conclusions include the need for curriculum developers to review the current ECE curriculum in order to include concepts of environmental conservation and sustainability. The Ministry of Education should ensure proper training of teachers on matters of environmental conservation. The MOE should also assist pre-schools with an activity schedule for conservation activities or consider having EE as a separate unit in teacher training and ECE. Moreover, children should be included in local environmental conservation activities. Suggestions for other research studies include a large scale study on the ECE curriculum, a study on conservation activities schedule for pre-school and a survey on opinion regarding involvement of children in local environmental issues.