Integrated environmental teaching in South Africa: An impossible dream?

  • ML Mokhele
Keywords: environmental learning, integrated environmental teaching

Abstract

To its credit, the new National Curriculum Statement (NCS) for GET (General Education and Training) recently revised into a new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)1 in RSA has put a premium on the inclusion of environmental learning as an integrated component of all subject areas in the primary school phase of learning. This is in line with international recommendations and provisions, particularly those originating from the Johannesburg World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in 2002. While the NCS is mandatory for all government schools in the country, many schools have all but ignored the environmental learning mandate in the curriculum. In this paper, I shall examine two case studies of schools in South Africa that have taken the curriculum mandate of integration seriously by specifically designing programmes for environmental learning. Using a qualitative research approach, I shall explore what was involved in the two programmes for integrating environmental learning, and how these programmes were implemented in each of the two schools. I shall then discuss my key finding, this being: while their efforts were admirable, both schools worked differently to achieve the target of an integrated environmental teaching/learning programme in the various school subjects. The paper concludes with a discussion on what integrated environmental teaching in South African schools actually involves and why implementing such a programme is near impossible, given the conditions currently prevailing in South African schools.
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