Environmental Education In Cambodia Education Essay

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This globe is now confronted with a variety of environmental problems which predominantly caused by human activities and the rapid population growth. It is very significant to recognize that while majority of these environmental problems have their causes and effects, there are also solutions to reduce their impact on this planet (Michael Duggan, 2010). In 1977, United Nation Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) with 66 member states of the United Nations had organized the world's first intergovernmental conference on environmental education in Tbilisi, Georgia (USSR). This Conference had the core points included major environmental problems in current society, the role of education in confronting the challenges of environmental problems, current efforts at the national and international levels for the development of environmental education, the strategies for development of environmental education at the national level, and regional and international co-operation for the development of environmental education (UNESCO-UNEP, 1977). In order to response to economic development, the awareness and understanding of environmental issues give the basis and rationale for commitment and meaningful action towards environmentally sound and sustainable development. The main environmental issues in Cambodia include habitat loss and declining biodiversity, deforestation, land degradation, and natural hazards and disasters, such as floods and droughts, water pollution, air pollution, windstorms, coastal inundation, soil erosion because of the economic growth (Central Intelligence Agency, 2012).

When we talk about environment, we focus on the living and non-living things surrounding us, and it also includes human beings and the human-made. Human beings are an inseparable part of environment and can't survive without the natural environment. If human beings are part of the environment, their activities will have an important on the natural world. Frequently, their activities affect the environment because they take resources from the natural environment, add things to the environment, and replace the natural environment with other things (O'Brien, 1999). At the same time, while human activities have changed the environment, education and learning are crucial elements in encouraging more sustainable development. Although the environment is impacted by human activities, education has proved effectiveness on showing how to reduce our impact on the environment, to repair the damaged environment, and to plan and develop for sustainable future (Live & Learn, 2007). In addition, environmental education has placed emphasis on the process of helping people via formal, non-formal/informal education in order to get comprehensiveness, skills, and values which the factors are pushing them to take part in activities of sustainable development. It also attempts to use these knowledge and skills to preserve, conserve, and utilize the environment in a sustainable manner for present and future generations, and to learn how to utilize new technologies, increase productivity, avoid environmental disasters, alleviate poverty, use new opportunities and make wise decisions (ASEAN, 2008-2011).

In other words, through human activities and modern technologies, the natural environment changes very fast, so it is quite important for us to realize about environmental problems and to correct these problems correctly.  For many environmental problems, we have combined the power of modern technology with considerable ignorance about the effects of what we are doing. Most significantly, environmental issues are complicated and constantly changing, so there is rarely one simple solution for environmental problems. Environmental policy and management is about dealing with complexity, in Cambodia and throughout the world (O'Brien, 1999). In the same case, Cambodia now is facing the most critical issues in environment and natural resources including surface water management, infrastructure building on the Mekong, climate change, depletion of forests, concessions for resource extraction, and degradation of soil drove by unsuitable agricultural practices (Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, 2012). The shortage of capacity to realize about the environment is a significant factor which leads to pollution and destruction. By realizing the processes of nature, farmers are able to get better yields from their agriculture. When Cambodian citizens in rural have awareness of their local environment, they can live in harmony with the natural and cultural environment. The awareness of local environment is to know where the resources are, when they should gather resources and how many resources they must use. This local knowledge is a form of environmental wisdom (Cambodia Research Centre for Development, 1999).

Because of its troubled history, Cambodia was slower than other nations to become active in environmental education. However, the Ministry of Environment was established in 1993 and since then some environmental education principles have been incorporated into government policies. Government also created the Department of Education & Communication and Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee for environmental education in formal sector, primary and secondary and monk education (NEEAC & TSEMP, 2006). The main activities of environmental education in Cambodia started from 1993 to 1999 including, training seminars and capacity-building workshops on environmental concepts and issues, a two-week national workshop on environmental education in Sihanoukville for 50 educators and educational/environmental administrators, managing the manual on environmental education for primary school teachers, orienting primary school teacher supervisors to work through the cluster school system to environmental concepts/issues and environmental education with regional workshops, inviting representatives of 113 school clusters in all provinces and municipalities in the country, preparing field-test approximately 2,000 teachers in more than 700 primary schools, planning to distribution of the final version of the manual to all primary schools in Cambodia, and beginning new environmental education programs for secondary school teacher educators and for monk teachers (O'Brien, 1999).

On the other hand, in the aim of policy of Cambodia curriculum development 2005-2009 released that after students graduated from schools, they would have an appreciate knowledge on environment and can maintain and conserve their natural, social and cultural environment (MoEYS, 2004). A few NGOs were the first groups to focus strongly on environmental education. By the late 2005, Osmose had trained 40 teachers; Mlup Baitong trained 32 teachers for using the part of running extra-curricular-clubs for primary school students in Kampong Speu province and it paid teachers to include environmental education school lessons nearby. Save Cambodia's Wildlife had also trained more than 200 teachers in seven provinces including Kampot, Koh Kong, Pursat, Kratie, Modolkiri, Ratanakiri, and Stung Treng about environmental awareness. In addition, Mlup Baitong has broadcasted a program through the Women's Media Centre in two parts: 15 minutes on environmental issues and one hour for receiving call-in and has also implemented environmental education through pagodas. At the same time, more than 5000 students visited the Gecko Centre for environmental education and groups of 16 primary school students have been visiting there once a week after they were trained through the manual. Besides that, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has also trained 20 monks in four pagodas (Live & Learn, 2007). Mlup Baitong empowered primary and secondary school students to initiate environmental comprehension intended to improve the local environment of their schools and built up the competencies of teachers and school directors for training their students on environmental awareness and skills (Mlup Baitong, 2010).

To this point, the only focused learning material has been produced on the environment for schools by NGOs. But some more general information about the environment is unavailable in school text books. For example,

Problem Statement

Although the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport has a policy, environmental education in Cambodian schools is not as developed as in many other countries. But as yet, there is no evidence to suggest that there is any coordinated approach to environmental education in Cambodia. By focusing on environmental knowledge of Grade 4-6 teachers who are in their final year of primary education, this study will give some light as to the current level of knowledge and teaching about environmental issues of one group of Phnom Penh primary school students at the end of their school education. This study investigates: the knowledge and teaching of grade 4-6 teachers at Phnom Penh primary school about environmental issues, how often these teachers teach about environmental issues and the reasons for the frequency of teaching on these issues. It also investigates where students and teachers get their environmental knowledge from.

Research Questions

What do teachers in grades 4-6 at a Phnom Penh primary school believes are the most important environmental issues in Cambodia?

How often do they talk about environmental issues in the classroom?

What are the reasons for the frequency they talk about environmental issues in the classroom?

The Significances of Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate about an aspect of the role of education in addressing on the current environmental issues in Cambodia that we are facing today. After investigating, we will know that who are responsible for those problems, how we can deal with those issues, who should play a significant role in participating to resolve those problems. More significantly, it is also crucial to build capacity of primary school teachers focusing on environmental knowledge and skills from grade 4-6 intended to transform that knowledge to their students to ensure and improve the quality of life for current and future generations. Environmental awareness or education for sustainability can make a real contribution to achieving a sustainable development for Cambodia.

If the results of this study can contribute to the development of environmental education in Cambodia, then students can develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes, practical experiences and motivation to make their students aware of a sustainable future. And it also helps them to understand how the natural world works through interconnected and interdependent systems, to connect what they do at school to their family and community, to have a strong understanding of the critical environmental issues facing Cambodia. Importantly through improving environmental education, primary school teachers learn to more effectively manage large classes, and to make their classes more engaging. When those teachers develop the skills to deliver Environmental Education effectively, they develop teaching skills which can be used in all areas of the curriculum. Strengthening the teaching of environmental education provides an entry point for strengthening teaching generally in Cambodia.

Chapter 2

Literature Review

This chapter reviews the literature about environmental education in schools internationally and in Cambodia as well which is emphasizing on the important roles of teachers in primary school from grade 4 to grade 6 they believe in the environmental issues. Otherwise, it shows how often they talk about the environmental issues to their students in classrooms as a part of the literature. I will revise both international and national sources. I also found available sources from popular websites such as: Google, Google scholar, Google-books, MoEYS, MoE, and some documents from Hun Sen library and go to seek information at Mlup Baitong and Live & Learn Environmental Education Organization based in Phnom Penh. In other way, I try to look for some information from social science study textbooks of grades 4-6, but unfortunately they are not permeated environmental issues for schooling.

The key points we use in this review are primary school teachers' capacity of understanding on environmental issues, the frequency of their teaching about environmental issues, and what the reasons encouraging them to talk about environmental issues in classroom. Moreover for teachers' knowledge it included awareness, attitudes, skills, the ways of practice, training, and methodologies, especially pedagogies. In teaching, it is required materials including guidebooks, school programs, and flipcharts intended to help facilitate their teaching effectively. In this chapter, we will divide the literature review into two parts, national and international.

International Literature Review

In the past, environmental education significantly focused on teaching about the environment, delivering knowledge, and creating awareness on environment for students in a classroom. And now environmental education attempts to establish a population is not only knowledgeable, but also has positive attitudes and is taking an action to preserve the environment (Palmer, 1998). Mosothwane (1991) asserted that teachers have played an important role for providing engagement in the delivery of environmental knowledge, its associated issues and their resolutions. UNESCO-UNEP (1985) has explored the ways that social science teachers have incorporated environmental concepts into their lessons to enhance awareness of environmental issues. Even though environmental education could be infused in all field studies of the curriculum, social science teachers still have responsibility to educate about many environmental problems depending on considerations of economics, society and politics. But Learn & Live (2010) argued that the roles of teachers in environmental education are not just in providing learning environment are not just providing the knowledge to their students, but also to help their students find out knowledge for themselves. According to Cutter-Mackenzie and Edwards (2006) also has argued that it is very crucial for teachers who have fundamental understanding of environmental education who have the ability to design their own teaching material to provide teaching to pupils.

Furthermore, Kimaryo (2011) asserts that the role of teachers in implementing environmental education is to develop the literate citizenship to be of great importance. And it is also the responsibility of government for developing a curriculum with clear goals and content. The teachers' capacity in teaching of environmental education has been developed and the teaching and learning tools are compulsory to be taken by their government in education plans and programs. In this article, Kimaryo (2011) explored teachers' concepts of environmental issues because it is important that they have a clear understanding of the main concepts. Thus, the teachers' perceptions of environmental education and education for sustainable development are significant for their teaching and transferring their perceptions to students. Vipinder Nagra (2010) argues that the teacher should understand all aspects of environmental education so that they can create a comprehensive understanding of environmental problems problems and their solutions for future generation. In doing so, it has been expected that teachers are not only progressing a positive attitude but also environmental practice and protection behavior. Most significantly, to aware of environmental education of the school teachers, background is effective on the teachers' environmental education understanding.

Similarly, Cutter-Mackenzie and Smith (2010) claim that primary school teachers consider environmental education to be an important field of studies but they lack skills and knowledge to be successful in teaching environmental education. On the other hand, Live and Learn Environmental Education, an environmental NGO, took a wider look than Cutter-MacKenzie and Smith conducted what they called 'rapid assessment of perceptions' in Timor-Leste (Live & Learn, 2011) and Eritrea (Live & Learn, 2009). The assessments considered local contexts and conditions and their ultimate goal was to strengthen environmental education in primary schools through resource development, teacher training and student leadership. In both situations, the studies found that students and teachers have a close relationship with the physical environment and concern about issues affecting them such as water quality.

Live & Learn (2011) asserted that the result of their report is required to create the environmental education initiative with 3 stages which emphasize on the resource development, teacher training, and student leadership. The first stage focuses on strengthening the ability of teachers in order to provide environmental education to grades 4-6 students in accordant with Estudo Do Meio curriculum. In the same case, Live & Learn (2009) has conducted a research in Eritrea about "Rapid Assessment of Perceptions" regarding the elementary school environmental education, and the main purpose of this research conducting is to develop an awareness of local peoples' perceptions of environmental and educational issues. The result released that the peoples' perceptions of environmental issues have been interacted with their immediate environment and they also show a concern related to water availability and quality. Moreover, RAP also identified that Eritrean people have the strong relationship with school communities and close connect to their physical environment.

Arinlade, J. A., and Raheem, Y. A. (2005) in their research indentified that teachers were aware of the permeating of environmental education the Nigerian Primary School. This is because of the majority of primary school teachers are undergoing courses to improve their knowledge. The awareness of environmental education is part of the general studies offered at all levels of education.

Teachers need help to strengthen their own knowledge base regarding environmental issues and to move their own thinking to a more systems based approach.

National Literature Review

Environmental education is still young in Cambodia and focused research about the environmental attitudes of students and teachers does not yet exist. My proposed research will begin to fill that large gap. What has been written about environmental education is general.

According to Live & Learn (2006) released that the environmental education efforts will be done to improve knowledge on environmental issues at all levels of Cambodian society focusing on the ecosystem of the Tonle Sap. In addition, to growing an understanding about human activities impacted on environment is key role of education intended to reduce this impact and enhance a more sustainable future. And environmental education can also be led to environmental ethics, willing, and be able to ensure the sustainable development of the region. Coastal Zone Management Project for 2002-2007 (2004) has established the textbook entitled "Teacher's Guide for Environmental Education in Primary Schools" and this textbook aimed to develop the training program on environmental education for lead primary school teachers attempted to enhance extra awareness of the concepts and coastal environment as new lessons for lead primary school teachers. Therefore, they are able to transfer the knowledge to their students to better understand about the environmental issues and can enable them to love, to take care of environment, and to take part in environmental conservation. Thus, this program is quite significant for offering knowledge to students and distributing to the improvement of local living standard in the coastal zone and to poverty eradication in accordant with the government's Rectangular Strategy.

According to Live & Learn (2007) found that Osmose had trained 40 teachers; Mlup Baitong trained 32 teachers for using the part of running extra-curricular-club's for primary school students in Kampong Speu province and it paid teachers to include environmental education nearby school lessons. For Save Cambodia's Wildlife had also trained more than 200 teachers in seven provinces including Kampot, Koh Kong, Pursat, Kratie, Modolkiri, Ratanakiri, and Stung Treng about environmental awareness.

Chapter 3


A combined-methods approach is being applied to investigate primary school teachers' knowledge and beliefs about environmental concepts and environmental education. The methodology consists of two stages. In stage one; ethnography is the core approach while quantitative methods comprise stage two.

For stage one, primary school teachers were sought in the Central Queensland region. Primary school principals were approached via letter initially and then via email to seek their support for the study. As such, principals were asked to encourage and seek the participation of their teaching staff through distributing information sheets and consents forms for the project.

Twenty Queensland primary school teachers have been individually interviewed to date. The intention is to interview forty primary school teachers, of which twenty had been completed and analyzed at the time of writing. Therefore, this paper is based upon preliminary (stage one) data analysis findings.