Exploring Learner Participation in Waste-Management Activities in a Rural Botswana Primary School
In Botswana, participation in environmental learning activities has been perceived as a central component of environmental education in formal education. Driven by the need to implement the objective of making the participatory approach part of the infusion of environmental education in the school curriculum as prescribed by the infusion policy, Botswana schools have come up with initiatives to involve learners in environmental education activities that seem to have ‘a direct, perceived benefit to the learners’ (NEESAP, 2007:9). Within this approach it is expected that learners should participate in these activities. However, Ketlhoilwe (2007) revealed that there has been a normalisation of environmental education into existing school culture through equating waste-management activities with environmental education. This generally entails cleaning activities by learners to maintain ‘clean schools’, which is directly associated with environmental education. Drawing from detailed case study data in one rural primary school with Standard 6 learners, I used Cultural Historical Activity Theory to investigate and explain how learners participate in these waste-management activities. Findings from this study revealed that attempts by teachers to meet the policy imperative through prescription of rules, and ascribing roles to learners in waste-management activities, create tensions. This gave rise to an elusive object of learner participation, as the purpose for their participation in these activities is not clear.
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