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ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS AND ATTITUDE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

SCIENCE EDUCATION TOPICS AND MATERIALS

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS AND ATTITUDE OF SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN ANKPA EDUCATION ZONE OF KOGI STATE

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to determine the environmental awareness and attitude of senior secondary school students in Anpka education zone. Six research questions and four hypotheses guided the study. Relevant literature was reviewed under three major sub-headings of conceptual framework, theoretical framework and review of empirical studies. The study adopted descriptive survey research design. The population of the study comprised all the senior secondary school class one (SS1) students in the fifty-five (55) secondary schools in the three local government areas in Ankpa education zone. There were two thousand four hundred and seventy-five (2475) SS1 students in the zone. Proportionate stratified sampling technique was used to sample twenty-eight (28) schools out of the fifty-five (55) secondary schools and six hundred and sixteen (616) students out of the two thousand four hundred and seventy-five students. Two instruments were used for data collection. The instruments are Students Environmental Awareness Scale (SEAS) and Environmental Attitude Scale for Students (EASS). The instruments were developed by the researcher and validated by three experts in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The data collected were analyzed using mean score and standard deviation to answer the research questions. T-test was used to test the hypotheses formulated for the study. The major findings of the study based on the analyzed data were that the senior secondary school students have low environmental awareness and attitude, that there is no significant different between the male and female students mean score on environmental awareness and attitude. The study concluded that the senior secondary school students in Anpka education zone possessed low environmental awareness and attitude; that there is no significant difference between male and female students with respect to environmental awareness and attitude; there is a significant difference between urban and rural students’ environmental awareness and attitude. The study recommended that conferences, seminars, and workshop should be organized for retraining of teachers, and that more environmental contents should be fused into relevant senior secondary school subject curriculum.

 

 

INTRODUCTION/CHAPTER ONE

Background of the Study

Environment is the totality of circumstances surrounding an organism or a group of organisms.  Environment is defined by Anikweze (2008) as the physical and non-physical space in which human beings start their lives, mature, grow, develop and eventually die. Such environment according to Anikweze (2008) could be physical, mental, emotional or social. These views on environment implied that every single factors whether biotic or abiotic that affect the life of an individual constitutes the individuals’ environment. Thus, environment is a very important factor in the growth and development of an individual, as its’ influence can build or mar the individuals. According to Eboh (2009), environment refers to a person’s surroundings and the objects there in.

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The impact of human activities on environment is on the increase. Ehrlich (2006), noted that the interconnected symptoms of assault on the environment and their consequences includes climate change, caused by emission of greenhouse gases which is a major environmental problem and land degradation. Ehrlich (2006) further explained that stratospheric ozone depletion has a number of harmful effects on environment which causes widespread injury to human, forest and crops. Land degradation, according to Ehrlich (2006) leads to decline in productive capacity of land or its ability to produce environmental services such as recycling nutrients as result of population pressure, rampart deforestation, overgrazing and misuse of agro- chemicals.

The World Health Organization (WHO, 2010) traced emergent diseases and leading causes of death globally to environmental change. The report further indicates that a number of factors currently contribute to the appearance   and spread of contagious diseases. Patton (2002), noted that humans are causing the environmental change on a massive scale, cutting forests, impounding rivers, creating unhealthy urban surroundings and habitat change and elimination of predators favour disease carrying organisms, such as mice, rats, mosquitoes among others. In the same vein, Cunningham and Cunningham (2002) observed that nearly three quarters of the world major fish stocks are over fished or are being harvested beyond a sustainable rate, and soil degradation has affected two-thirds of the world agricultural land in the last 50 years.

Awareness and consciousness are in some respect synonymous. The Longman Dictionary of contemporary English (2009) defines awareness as the knowledge or understanding of a particular subject or situation, the ability to notice something using sense and also refers to someone’s idea, feelings or opinions about life, while consciousness is also defined by the above source as the condition of being awake and able to understand what is happening around you, the state of knowing that something exists  or is true, and also implies someone’s  ideas, feelings or opinions about life politics, environment etc. Chinedu (2008) viewed awareness as the conditions of being aware and able to understand what is happening around one. In agreement with the above views, Wikipedia (2009) equates awareness with perception of, conscious of, acquaintance with, enlightenment with, mindfulness of, cognizance of something. In the context of this study and in agreement with the above views, awareness implies understanding and knowledge of the activities and events (such as desertification, land degradation, climate change, deforestation, atmospheric and land pollution, flooding etc.) going on around one’s environment.

Attitude according to Abini (2006) is an acquisitioned tendency, Abini further explained that pupils form attitude through either like or dislike, favourable or unfavourable towards event(s) in the environment. Good (2001) defined attitude as a state of mental and emotional readiness to respond to previously conditioned or associated stimuli. Williams (2000) described attitude as readiness to act in a certain way expressed by person’s words, gesture or facial expressions. The above view is upheld as action at times speaks louder than voice. Kent (2002) noted that attitudes is a mental and natural state of readiness organized through experience exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s  responses to all object and situation with which it is related. Therefore environmental attitude means the way of thinking and acting by individual towards good quality of environment, land degradation, climate change, deforestation, atmospheric and land pollution, flooding among others. It shows the feeling and concern an individual could have with respect to such phenomena as mentioned above.

With respect to the above discussion attempt has been made to increase students’ awareness and attitude towards their environment.      In secondary schools for instance, relevant curriculum content such as environmental pollution, environmental harzards, natural and human resources management, land degradation, climate change, sanitation, effects of industrial concentration, composition of atmospheric  gases, weather and climate, classification of climate among others were infused into some subjects such as chemistry, physics, Biology, Geography, Agriculture and social studies. These subjects are used to promote students awareness towards their environment and at the same time develop in students the environmental friendly attitude that will enable them live and interact with their environment in a friendly manner. In relation to the above, Ishaya and Abaje (2008) noted that secondary school teachers have been inculcating environmental contents infused into their various subjects to students in order to increase the knowledge of the environment as well as influence  their attitude positively towards the environment. Againde (2006) noted that schools through classroom instructions are making effort to create awareness of major environmental problems like deforestation, climate change, land degradation, etc. Chinedu (2008) is in agreement with the view that the curriculum contents of most secondary school subjects could be effectively used to promote awareness of environmental problems as well as develop positive attitudes towards solving environmental problems.

However, it may take a longer time to reap the benefits of the effort through school instructions to promote awareness and attitude of students towards the environment. This is because apart from students, the greater proportion of the society’s population has continued to perpetuate acts detrimental to the health of the environment. Such human’s acts include bush burning, deforestation, burning of fossil fuel petrol, coal and crude oil that contribute to environmental problems. It is noteworthy that as these human actions which are detrimental to the health of the environment continue to exist so shall their consequences continue to redirect back to human beings in the environment. Therefore, there is need to determine the extent to which instructional delivery in schools through infusion approach has increased the awareness and attitudes of students towards their environment.

In order to determine students’ level of awareness and attitude towards their environment, there is need to take into consideration the influence of gender and location on students’ environmental awareness and attitude. Gender according Robert (2007) is a social construct which is not biologically determined but a concept equivalent to race or class. Lee (2001) noted that gender is an ascribed attribute that differentiate feminine from masculine socially. Gender is by this attribute seen as the categorization in the world of matter into sex. Ekeh (2000) is in agreement with the above view that gender implies the character of being male or female, man or woman, boy or girl. In the same vein, Kalusi (2000) described gender as a cultural construction that assigns roles, attitudes and values considered appropriate for each sex. Offorma (2004) viewed gender as a learned socially constructed condition ascribed to male and female. Offorma further noted that gender is enforced through cultural practices, as gender identity is the outcome of cultural learning, hence the expectations from male and female are dependent on their cultural milieus.

The way individual perceives environmental issues such as good quality of environment, desertification, atmospheric pollution among others could be influenced by these expectations (roles). Ekezie (2010) further noted that gender is an important variable in environmental discussion. Ekezie (2010) stressed that females appear to be closer to the environment than their male counter parts as the former need forest for food generation as well as for fuel wood used for cooking. Chinedu (2008) argues that the females relate friendlier with the environment than their male counterparts. For instance, the females merely engage the environment for agricultural purpose. On the other hand the males engage the environment for different purposes that are more serious such as felling forest trees for timber, clearing forest for construction of road, building of homes and factories among others.

With regards to the above views, Ofoebe (2009) presented the view that environmental sensitization programmes in and outside the school should consider the gender differences or physiological  differences between males and females which are obvious and invariably  affect the ways both sexes  respond to the environmental problems such as land degradation, flooding, desertification, population explosion  among others. According to Oruonye (2011), the different ways female and male are socialized tends to determine their environmental exploration, degree of environmental  manipulation and overall relationship  with the environment, in addition to the general awareness and attitude towards environmental issues like desertification, flood disaster, deforestation, climate change, pollution, population explosion among others. The present study sought among other things to determine whether gender has influence on students’ awareness and attitudes towards environmental problems as enumerated above.

On the other hand, location of individuals could also affect their awareness and attitudes towards the environment. Igwe (2003) defined location as a place where somebody or something resides in the world. Oguniyi (2008) noted that location can also mean a settlement whether a village, town or city usually by human beings. Benton (2000) also described location as a geographical place or an area. Contextually, location in this study implies a geographical place or area where something or somebody is situated, be it rural or urban area.

Rural areas are often made up of villages which could either be linear, dispersed or nucleated in their patterns of distribution on the terrain, having few buildings and also few people. The settlers’ life style is simple and quiet with economic activity as farming, few amenities and service centres. According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2010), awareness and attitudes of the rural dwellers in Nigeria on environmental issues could be directly proportional to the quality of information prevalent and available to them. On the other hand, urban areas are relatively large, characterized with dense and permanent settlement of socially heterogeneous individuals. The settlement could be towns, cities, metropolis or even conurbations. Urban areas have a large and heterogeneous population, medical and social amenities, educational, recreational, banking, administrative and social activities, having highly developed manpower (male and female) and artisans among others who engage in non-agricultural occupation with highly impersonal relations. It is the opposite of rural environment, with its sophisticated life and bustle life activities.

The above contrasts between the urban and rural areas could influence student’s awareness and attitudes towards their environment. Based on the above discussion, Nicholis and Small (2003) opined that where people live (location) determined how much information and knowledge that get to them especially in developing countries like Nigeria. In line with the above views, the present research work intends to determine if location have influence on students awareness and attitudes towards environment in Ankpa Education Zone of Kogi State.

Statement of the Problem

The importance of environmental education is now well recognized and this fact is underscored by the involvement  of the Federal Government, State Agencies, NGO and private individuals on environmental awareness creation. In Nigeria, the consequences  of land degradation, deforestation, population explosion, desertification, water and air pollution amongst others have started manifesting in form of drought, temperature rise, flooding, low agricultural yield, drying up of water bodies, development of gully erosion etc. To curtail these environmental problems, environment related contents are infused into most secondary school curriculum.

Although, studies have been carried out in some parts of Nigeria such as Cross River, Kaduna and Imo States to examine students’ awareness and attitude towards environmental problems as a result of school instructions. The major concern of this study is that it appears that the magnitude or degree of such environmental problems (i.e soil erosion, land degradation, deforestation, flooding among others) is higher and more destructive in Ankpa Education Zone than that of Cross River, Kaduna and Imo States. Furthermore, it also appears that such crucial and contemporary study has not been done in Kogi State. The present study intends to fill this gap.

Based on the above gap, the problem of the study put in question form is, what is the senior secondary school students’ awareness level and attitudes towards the environment in Ankpa Education Zone of Kogi State?

Purpose of the Study

The general purpose of the study is to ascertain the environmental awareness level and attitudes of senior secondary school students towards environmental problems and issues in Ankpa Education Zone of the Kogi State. Specifically, the study intends to;

  • Ascertain the environmental awareness level of senior secondary school students in Ankpa Education Zone.
  • Ascertain the attitude of senior secondary school students towards the environment.
  • Determine the influence of gender on the environmental awareness of senior secondary school students.
  • Determine the influence of gender on senior secondary school students’ attitude towards environmental issues.
  • Ascertain the influence of school location on the environmental awareness of senior secondary school students.
  • Determine the influence of school location on senior secondary school students’ attitude towards the environment.

Significance of the Study

The results of the study will help to support the functionalism theory by showing how negative attitude of people towards the environment affect the functioning of the planet  earth and will further help to sustain the relevance of the theory.  Furthermore, functionalism emphasizes the consensus and order that exist in a system, focusing on friendly interaction with the environment for the overall sustainable development of mankind and promotion of the health of the environment.  From the above functionalist perspective, disorganization in the system (such as deforestation, land degradation, climate change, population explosion, flooding, pollution among others) leads to environmental problems. The system components must adjust through mitigation by man to achieve sustainability and stability.

The finding of the study will be significant to the students, teachers, implementers of environmental protection and conservation projects, government and curriculum planners. The students is afforded the opportunity to benefit from the study as it will give them the chance to appraise themselves particularly on their level of awareness and attitude towards environmental problems (i.e deforestation, land degradation, climate change, flooding, population  among others). This will be possible since the students will be actively involved in the study as they respond to the item of the research instruments, they will understand (i.e through interactive questions and answers on the items from both students and researcher respectively).  Environmental problems such as desertification, deforestation, population explosion, climate change, waste disposal, flooding, consequences as well as positive attitude needed for mitigating further increase and effects of these environmental problems.

The findings of the study will enable the teachers to adopt most appropriate infusion strategies for proper teaching and evaluation of environmental themes such as climate change, deforestation, flooding, population explosion, pollution among others. The findings of the study will also help the students and teachers to develop respect for the environment. Thus, encouraging increased awareness for the environment. Through the findings of this study, individual will be well informed about positive attitudes and behaviours towards the environment.

For government and other environmentally focused non-governmental organization, the findings of the study will enable them to ascertain if environmentally relevant school subjects like geography, biology, chemistry, physics, social studies and basic science have actually promoted students awareness and attitudes towards environmental problems and issues. The results will serve as a base on which both government and other environmentally concerned organizations will either choose to intensity their awareness and attitudinal change  campaign  strategies towards protecting and conserving the environment. This in effect will help to increase individual members of the society’s awareness and positive attitude towards environmental problems and issues thereby reducing human activities that contribute to environmental pollution, land degradation, flooding, climate change among others, and by extension save the world and its people from destructive consequences of environmental problems and issues.

The study when successfully completed will acquaint curriculum planners with salient information on environmental problems and issues (awareness and attitudes) of senior secondary school students. The findings will also enable curriculum planners to determine whether the junior secondary school curriculum (JSSC) need to be revisited for additions of more contents that could help to raise the level of awareness  and attitudes of senior secondary school (SSSI) Students on environmental problems and issues.

Scope of the Study

The scope of the study was restricted to environmental awareness and attitudes of Senior Secondary School (SSI) students. The study was carried out in Ankpa Education Zone of Kogi State.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study.

  • What is the environmental awareness level of senior Secondary School students in Ankpa Education Zone?
  • What is the influence of gender on the attitude of Senior Secondary School students towards the environment?
  • What is the influence of gender on the environmental awareness of Senior Secondary School Students?
  • What is the influence of gender on the Senior Secondary school Students’ attitude towards environmental issues?
  • What is the influence of school location on the environmental awareness of Senior Secondary School Students?
  • What is the influence of school location on Senior Secondary School Students attitude towards the environment?

Hypotheses:

The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance.

  1. There is no significant difference in the mean environmental awareness score of male and female senior secondary school students.
  2. There is no significant difference in the mean environmental attitude rating of male and female senior secondary school student.
  3. There is no significant difference in the mean environmental awareness score of Urban and rural Senior Secondary Schools Students.
  4. There is no significant difference in the mean environmental attitude rating of urban and rural Senior Secondary School Students.

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