Environmental education offered by Delta Environmental Centre : an evaluation case study of a programme in environmental education
Author(s)Shongwe, Doctor B.
KeywordsConservation of natural resources -- Study and teaching
Non-formal education -- South Africa
Full recordShow full item record
This research project lasting from 1994-1996 is a comprehensive description and evaluation of the environmental education programme offered at Delta Environmental Centre. It is an evaluative case study of a progamme in environmental education. The principal aim of the project was to evaluate the environmental education programme offered by Delta. This was achieved through a comprehensive description and documentation of the various features/aspects of the programme. Because the research is based upon the Fourth Generation Evaluation approach (Guba & Lincoln 1989:50/252), the views, claims, concerns of the Delta Environmental Education Officers and other significant stakeholders form the major part of the research. Through interviews, factors influencing the programme and some aspects of the Centre were elicited by the research process. Both the Environmental Education Officers and the other stakeholders (Sponsors, the Honorary President and founder of the Centre, the Chairman, the former Chief Executive of Delta and the former Chief Educationalist) made important and valid recommendations which, if taken serious by the management of the Centre, will influence the future direction of the Centre. From the available documents such as internal educational reports, newsletters, magazines and pamphlets, together with the interviews conducted, the history and development of the Centre and its environmental education activities was revealed. The Centre has changed over the years and the changes are reflected on the many mission statements the Centre has produced. These are reviewed on an ongoing basis to keep up with changes in environmental education. This has led to very successful educational activities reflected in the methods employed by the Officers and the content of the programme. The methodology is central to the teaching and learning at the Centre. It emerged from the interviews, that the instructional strategies are varied and geared to different age levels and backgrounds of the groups. Creative teaching methods such as dramatisation, games and role play (Shongwe 1992b:44) are used very effectively at the Centre. In addition to such methods is observation, self-discovery, hands-on activities and experiential learning where pupils are given the opportunity to experience and encounter natural features of Delta Park. The pupils visiting the Centre bring along certain experiences, needs and expectations that should be recognised by the Environmental Education Officers if effective teaching and learning is to be achieved. The pupils, through a questionnaire, articulate these and this is one area that needs further investigation and formal research. The role of the Centre was explained, priorities were set and recommendations for improvement were made by both the Environmental Education Officers and the other stakeholders. It is recommended that the Centre should go beyond the teaching foundations of ecology to issues that are more relevent to the day to day living of people. The programme should incorporate more problem solving skills that will assist the pupils to solve real problems back at home. Teachers should be exposed to environmental management techniques which might be translated into the promotion of environmental values and ethics as part of the day to day running of schools. Techniques such as how to draw and implement an Environmental Management System (EMS), an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and to conducts environmental audits at school be promoted. The programme has changed over the years for the better. Among other factors, the working conditions, the personality of the Officers and their outonomy, are the main contributing factors influencing the effectiveness of the Centre and its environmental education programme. These are unique findings as there is no evidence from literature that this has ever been articulated. The research confirms the relevance of qualitative research and the use of the case study approach as most appropriate for research in environmental education. Fourth Generation Evaluation is also most suitable for an evaluation of an environmental education programme. Finally, the research recognises the contributions by the Centre towards the development of environmental education in this country on non-formal basis and argues for a balance between this approach and formal education. The research concludes that the environmental education programme at Delta is effective and based upon sound environmental and educational principles. High and strong commendations to the staff and the management of the Centre. The Centre is one of the most important and well suited establishment to facilitate the incorporation of environmental education in the formal curriculum.