Enhancing learner centred education through the eco-schools framework : case studies of eco-schools practice in South Africa and Namibia

Haingura, Rudolph (2009) Enhancing learner centred education through the eco-schools framework : case studies of eco-schools practice in South Africa and Namibia. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Since the early 1990’s both South Africa and Namibia have been engaged in educational reform processes to address the discriminatory impacts and orientations of education under Bantu Education which were implemented in both countries prior to independence (Namibia in 1990, and South Africa in 1994). A feature of both educational reform processes is the underpinning theory of learning which draws on social constructivism, and which is articulated as learner centred education. This approach to teaching and learning infuses both policy frameworks. Another common feature is the introduction of environmental education into the formal education systems of both countries, a process which has been championed by development assistance, and which has been supported by programmes such as the Eco-Schools programme which is an international environmental education initiative started after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and implemented in a number of countries, including South Africa. The programme has also been piloted in some schools in Namibia. To date no research has been done on the way in which the Eco-Schools framework (its practices, organizing principles, evaluation processes etc.) enhance learner centred education. This study therefore aimed to investigate and understand how the Eco-Schools framework can enhance learner centred education. The study was conducted in 2007 in three Eco-Schools in Namibia and four Eco-Schools in South Africa in the context of the broader national programmes of implementing learner centred education policies, and environmental education histories. The study used a case study methodology, using observation, interviews, and document analysis as the main methods for data generation. The analytical process followed two stages: the first involved an inductive analysis using categories which were organized into a series of analytical memos. The second phase of data analysis involved recontextualising the data drawing on theory and contextual insights to provide insights that address the research question, using analytical statements. The main findings of the study are that the Eco-Schools framework provides numerous opportunities to enhance learner centred education, through contextualization of learning, through strengthening school-community interactions, and through enabling active involvement of learners in decision making and a range of contextually meaningful Eco-Schools practices. The study also showed that the Eco-Schools framework allows for empowerment of learners in relation to diverse needs, and also allows for learner initiated contributions, although this aspect was not well developed in the schools that were included in this study. The study also found that the benefits of Eco-Schools in terms of enhancing learner centred education were limited to only a few learners who were involved in club activities or who were being taught by enthusiastic teachers who were participating in the Eco-Schools programme. The study showed that these benefits can be more widely shared if more teachers were to get involved, and if the Eco-Schools programme were better understood in relation to the curriculum requirements of various subjects and learning areas, and if the Eco-Schools practices could be more successfully integrated across the curriculum. The study also showed that various forms of support were required for implementing the Eco-Schools programme, most notably the support of the Principal, and the Department of Education. The study also identified that parents and other stakeholders in the school were supportive of the Eco-Schools programme since it was perceived to have relevance to learning, as well as the community. The results broadly confirmed that the implementation of Eco-Schools using a whole school, values based and active learning approach promotes a school culture which enhances learner centred education more broadly across the school. The study also found that the Eco-Schools programme added a new dimension to existing discourses on learner centred education, which could be described as a community linked or situated approach to learner centred education.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Environmental education, South Africa, Namibia
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2622
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:17 Apr 2012 08:20
Last Modified:17 Apr 2012 08:20
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