Environmental youth clubs in Namibia : what role do, could or should they play in environmental education?

Botma, Connie (2000) Environmental youth clubs in Namibia : what role do, could or should they play in environmental education? Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

Although the existence of wildlife clubs in Africa dates back to the start of the environmental movement in the 1970s, youth involvement through environmental clubs only commenced in Namibia in 1992. I became involved with the clubs in 1995 when I was employed by the Rossing Foundation Environmental Education Project to encourage, support and coordinate environmental clubs in Namibia. During the last three years the number of Namibian clubs has increased from 20 to ±85, and they are now established in most geographical regions of the country. During my involvement with the clubs I became increasingly interested in the philosophical underpinnings of youth movements like clubs and started questioning what we could expect from the youth and what could be achieved through the clubs. One of my main concerns was whether youth could make a significant improvement to the quality of their lives and their environment through these clubs. The aim of my research was therefore to describe and reflect critically on the role of environmental youth clubs in environmental education in Namibia. My study was guided by a socially critical orientation which emphasises the construction of meaning through social dialogue and critical reflection. I chose an interpretative research strategy and generated data mainly through semi-structured interviews, participant observation, a focus-group discussion and a workshop. Due to the focus of the research I purposefully selected the sample of existing youth clubs to be included in the study. The iterative strategy of gathering and interpreting data in successive cycles allowed for continuous reflection throughout the research process. It also allowed me to identify key patterns and trends in analysing and interpreting the data. The study findings suggest that environmental clubs do playa role in learning about environmental issues; in developing personal and social identity, confidence and a sense of purpose in society; in establishing new and supportive relationships between teachers and learners and with other community resourde people; in creating opportunities and enabling exposure to diverse learning environments, options and alternatives; and ih fostering the orientation and skills needed to effect meaningful d1'inges in the environment. The findings also suggest that environmental clubs could make a significant contribution to environmental education, providing that they incorporate a socially critical orientation, gain greater recognition from significant adults and education officials, collaborate with other projects and organisations, and use guidelines of models such as the action research framework to ensure relevant and effective action projects. The main challenges to environmental clubs in Namibia include changing perceptions that youth do not have much to contribute; improving relationships between clubs, schools and communities; dealing with the tension between the possible disempowering effect of central control and the need for more formalised structures in order to gain official recognition; and developing strategies to ensure the clubs' sustainability in the future.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental education, Namibia, Youth, Societies, Clubs
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2427
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:31 Jan 2012 08:22
Last Modified:31 Jan 2012 08:22
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