Enviromental education in Tanzanian secondary schools. An Exploratory Case Study from Teachers’ Perspectives
Aim: The purpose of this qualitative study is to examine the concept of Environmental Education (EE) in Tanzanian secondary schools from the teachers' perspective. The results of this study will help schools evaluate and implement the goals of the EE curriculum and understand the challenges and opportunities for teachers and school administrators. Theory: Theory of experiential learning by David Kolb in 1984, whose foundation is based on the work of other scholars such as John Dewey, Kurt Lewin, and Jean Piaget. This theory posits the relationship between learning and experience, perception, cognition, and behaviour. Teachers assist learners in developing their experiences while teaching/learning EE, interacting with their environment. As students age, through experiential learning, they become environmentally aware and responsible citizens who act, participate, and behave. The conceptual framework is used to explore the conceptualization of EE and explain the roles of teachers in driving their journey of discovery to achieve the goals of EE and observed outcomes related to school culture, student achievement, teaching/learning approaches, action, and participation in environmental issues. Method: Data was mainly collected by a semi-structured interviews instrument. Two focus groups with a total of 6 participants were obtained through purposive sampling (Group A included 2 geography teachers and 2 biology teachers. Group B included 2 school administrators, i.e., the Head of school and the academic teacher). Each group was interviewed for approximately one hour. Subsequently, the collected data were analyzed thematically. Results: Teachers need training and sufficient resources to effectively implement environmental education in schools. EE is urgently needed and actively implemented, apart from the challenges teachers face. They perceive EE positively, have the attitude and enthusiasm to design and facilitate EE with their knowledge despite their abstract conceptualisation of EE being constrained by a lack of specific trainings. By enhancing students in acquisition of environmental knowledge through experiences they develop from EE learning, they convey a message to parents, most of whom are ordinary community members whose neighbourhoods are often characterized by fire outbreaks and anti environmental practices. The teachers also use platforms such as parent meetings at school to educate the community on how to value, preserve, and properly and profitably use the environment by promoting the spirit of planting trees both for environmental protection and economic reasons, while avoiding bushfire outbreaks and all other environmentally destructive practices. As a sign of their commitment to EE, the teachers and their students plant timber and avocado trees at the school each year, from which they extract avocado fruit for food and timber for economic purposes. The school's fire club helps students learn, discuss, and engage in fire safety activities at school and at home. Aside from these successes, teachers face the significant challenge of a lack of in-service and professional development on EE. Schools also do not receive enough funding from the central government to smoothly implement all school plans, including EE projects and outdoor activities that give students a hands-on understanding. It is also suggested that EE could be promoted as an independent subject.