Extent Of Environmental Education In Selected Higher Education Education Essay

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Environmental education has been considered as a useful tool for environmental management in higher education institutions worldwide. This study described the extent of environmental education in eight selected higher education institutions in the Caraga Region. The method used was descriptive research design using the survey technique. A modified questionnaire was used in gathering the data. The participants were the students.

Based on the results of the study the following are the findings: In terms of the profile of the HEI participants, most of them have been existing for 1 to 50 years; both private and public share the same number; the majority is located in urban places; and most of the HEIs have 1,000 to 3,000 students. As to profile of the students, most of them are between ages 18-19; the majority are females; most of them are enrolled in Education; and the majority are not members to environmental organizations. Moreover, the number of years of existence of the HEI, and the gender of the students have significant relationship with the perceptions on the extent of environmental education.

Based on the findings of the study, it is concluded that environmental education as to physical operations, research, environmental literacy, and ethical and moral responsibility is extensive; the number of years of existence of the HEI, and the students' gender are the factors that would influence perceptions on the extent of environmental education.

Keywords: Environmental education, environmental literacy

Environmental education has been considered as an important tool for environmental management in higher education institutions worldwide. It is one of the strategies for achieving and maintaining sustainable development. It is also about human-environment interactions and the application of science to solve related problems.

Higher education institutions worldwide are involved in the integration of environmental concerns and issues in education and research, community project and management of campuses (Van Weenen, 1999). These environmental activities of institutions are caused by the growing concern about issues such as population increase, pollution, urbanization and rising consumption, and what to do about it. The role of educational institutions is recognized as critical for promoting sustainable development.

Academic coverage of environmental topics and ecological principles increases student awareness, and positively affects attitudes, behaviors, and values regarding environmental conservation (Humston & Ortiz-Barney, 2007). As informations are dessiminated to students, it is expected that the parents will learn about it, making a bigger portion of the population to become environmentally aware.

Environmental education is necessary for environmental preservation in the Caraga Region due to the presence of endemic species of animals, plants, algae, and fungi in diverse habitats from marine and freshwaters to terrestrial habitats. These natural habitats of endemic species are still in great danger of getting destroyed due to environmental problems such as over-exploitation of natural resources, air and water pollution, acid precipitation, global warming and climate change. In response to these problems, protected areas had been established all over the Philippines to protect the most endangered areas, two of them are found in the Caraga Region, namely: the Agusan Marsh and the Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape. Extensive environmental education in these areas will develop well-informed, motivated and environmentally responsible citizens which is seen as the key to the long-term conservation of natural resources and the protection of the ecosystems in Caraga region.

However, no study on the extent of environmental education had yet been conducted in higher education institutions in the Caraga region; thus, the researcher is interested in conducting this particular study.

Review of Related Literature

Environmental education had been introduced in the Philippines since the Environmental Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) was given official sanction as early as 1977, when Presidential Decrees (PD) 1121 and 1152 mandated that the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) should integrate environmental education in the school curriculum at all levels (Galang, 2010). In 2008, Republic Act No. 9512 prompts environmental efforts here in the Philippines by the different government agencies. It promotes environmental awareness through environmental education. DepED, CHED, TESDA, DSWD, DENR and DOST are specifically mandated by section 3 of RA 9512 to integrate environmental education in its school curricula at all levels, non-formal, technical vocational, professional level, indigenous learning, and out of school youth courses or programs.

Globally, the first to define environmental education had been Dr. William Stapp et al. (1969) at the University of Michigan a few years ahead of the first environmental declaration that mentioned environmental education. According to their definition, environmental education is aimed at producing a citizenry who is knowledgeable concerning the biophysical environment and its associated problems; aware of how to help solve these problems; and motivated to work toward their solution.

In 1972, beginning with the Stockholm Declaration, the development of national and international sustainability declarations relevant to higher education institutions had steadily grew in number. Many institutions of higher education attempted to become more sustainable by signing these declarations. Wright (2002) reviewed major national and international declarations and institutional policies related to environmental sustainability in universities.

Agenda 21 which was the result of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (1992), specifically addressed in chapter 36 issues related to the sustainability in education, awareness and training. Education is critical for promoting sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to address environment and development issues (UNCED, 1992).

Higher educational institutions are increasingly focusing on education, research and contacts with the surrounding society as their most significant environmental aspects. This is due to the number of students and research results by which the universities have a long-term environmental impact. The students would then later be better equipped in their professions to contribute to sustainable development (Sammalisto, 2005).

Environmental education programs have different strategies. There are programs that focus on teacher professional development and other capacity building programmes such as Education for Biodiversity Conservation (2009), Foster-Turley (1996) and (Fullard, 2006). The action-oriented environmental education strategy used by Taylor (2010), and Ramadoss and Poyya Moli (2011) were intended to develop biodiversity consciousness among students. Active classroom sessions, hands-on activities, experiential education, and field exposures are vital to achieve sustainable biodiversity knowledge and motivate students to protect and conserve local biodiversity.

Conceptual Framework of the Study

This study is anchored on Wright's (2002) identified themes and priorities in a study to review the frameworks for environmental sustainability of major national and international declarations and institutional policies related to environmental sustainability in universities. The study identified emerging themes and priorities, including: sustainable physical operations, sustainable academic research, environmental literacy, ethical and moral responsibility, cooperation amongst universities and countries, and the development of interdisciplinary curriculum.

The interplay of the variables in this study is illustrated in Figure 1, Schematic Diagram of the Study. Box 1 to 2 contain the profile of the HEI and students.

Proposed

Recommendations

for

Extensive Implementation

Extent of Environmental Education in terms of:

Physical operations

Academic research

Environmental literacy

Ethical and moral responsibility

Profile of HEI:

Number of years of existence

type of the HEI

location

student population

Profile of Students:

age

gender

program

membership to an environmental organization

Figure 1. Schematic Diagram of the Study

Environmental Education

This is particularly focused on physical operations, research, environmental literacy, and ethical and moral responsibility. Physical operations means operations which are environmentally sound and environmentally appropriate as well as financially sound practices (Wright,2002); Research means environmentally responsible study which is based on strong science and data to ensure well informed decisions (Wright, 2002); Environmental Literacy refers to the ability to work in an environmentally responsible manner and having an environmental perspective in all their works (Wright, 2002); and

Ethical and Moral Responsibility refers to the promotion of the practice of environmental ethics in society.

Statement of the Problem

This study aimed to describe the extent of environmental education in the eight (8) selected Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the Caraga region. Specifically, it investigated the following: School profile of the participating Higher Education Institutions and the profile of students; the extent of environmental education in the selected Higher Education Institutions in the Caraga Region in terms of: physical operations, academic research, environmental literacy, and ethical and moral responsibility. It investigated the significant relationship in the perceived extent of environmental education in selected higher education institutions in the Caraga Region with respect to their school profiles. Further, it also investigated the significant relationship on the perceptions of the participants regarding the extent of environmental education in selected higher education institutions in Caraga region and their profiles.

Hypotheses

At .05 level of significance, the following were hypothesized: Ho1. There is no significant relationship in the perceived extent of environmental education in the selected higher education institutions in the Caraga Region with respect to their school profiles.

Ho2. There is no significant relationship between the perceptions of the participants

regarding the extent of environmental education of the selected higher education institutions and their profiles.

Significance of the Study

This study would contribute to the Education Sector in the formulation of their own institutional environmental education framework or the revision of certain environmental education policies; the Governments of the Caraga Region in the formulation of ordinances to preserve the environment; Faculty and students in the integration of environmental concepts and conduct of their own researches.

METHOD

The method used in this study was descriptive research design using the survey technique. The participants of the study were the students. A total of 411 participants from the eight (8) selected Higher Education Institutions, namely Agusan del Sur State College of Agriculture and Technology (ASSCAT); Caraga State University (CSU); Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU); Northeastern Mindanao Colleges (NEMCO); Surigao del Sur State University (SDSSU); Surigao Education Center (SEC); Saint Paul University Surigao (SPUS); and Surigao State College of Technology (SSCT). A modified questionnaire was used in gathering the data. Data collection started in the third week of November 2011 up to the second week of January, 2012. The collected data were statistically treated using frequency count and percentage distribution, mean and standard deviation and pearson product moment correlation coefficient (Pearson r).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Profile of the HEIs and the Participants

Table 1 presents the profile of the participating HEIs. As shown in the table, five (63%) have been existing for 1 to 50 years; 2 (25%) have been existing for 101 - 150; and one (12%) has been there for 50 - 100 years. This indicates that most of the selected HEIs are young institutions which have been operating for 1 to 50 years . It is followed by older institutions 100 to 110 years old. This means that the Caraga region has been enjoying the benefits of well-established HEIs for a long time.

As to the type of higher education institutions, 4 (50%) of 8 of the schools in this study are public schools, and 4 (50%) are private schools. The nationwide percentage of HEIs is that 73% private schools and 27% public schools (Guzman, 2009). This is also true in the Caraga region, where there are more private HEIs than public HEIs. However, this study included only the HEIs with a population of 1,000 to 5,649.

Table 1. Profile of the HEIs

Variables

f (n=8 )

%

Number of years of existence

1 - 50 yrs

5

63

50 - 100 yrs

1

12

101 - 110 yrs

2

25

Type of HEI

Public

4

50

Private

4

50

Location

Urban

6

75

Rural

2

25

Student population

1,000 - 3,000

4

50

3,001 - 5,000

3

38

5,000 - 6,000

1

12

As to the location of the HEIs, six (75%) are located in the urban areas. The two other schools (25%) are located in rural areas. This is usual for HEIs with populations 1,000 and above to be located in urban areas here in the Philippines because it is where more students can afford to get into college. Besides, students from the neighboring provinces usually prefer to attend colleges in urban areas. Further, HEIs particularly private schools could rarely survive in the rural areas whose existence depends only on the tuition fees of the students, except for state-run colleges and universities just like the 25% participating schools in this study which are funded by the national government.

The majority (4 or 50%) of the selected HEIs in the Caraga Region have student population ranging between 1,000 to 3,000. This is followed by the student population bracket of 3001 - 5,000 comprising 38% of all HEIs under study. Only one (12%) school has a population of more than five thousand.

Table 2 presents the profile of the participating students. As to age, the majority (200 or 49% of the 411 participants) are between ages 18-19. This is followed by the age bracket 20 and above which make up 120 (29%) of all participants. Student participants with age bracket between 16-17 comprises 91 (22%).

As to gender, 244 (59%) of the 411 students participants are female. The male participants comprises 167 (41%) of all student- participants.

Table 2. Profile of the Student Participants

Variables

f (n= 411)

%

Age

16 - 17

91

22

18 - 19

200

49

20 and above

120

29

Sex

male

167

41

female

244

59

Program enrolled in

AB Pol Sci, Philo

19

4.62

Accounting

20

4.86

Agriculture

26

6.3

BS Environmental Science

8

1.94

BS Math

1

.24

BSBio

9

2.18

Business and management

49

11.92

Computer , IT

60

14.59

Criminology

11

2.67

Education

81

19.7

Engineering

54

13.13

HRM

5

1.21

Law and graduate school

3

.72

Marine Technology

7

1.7

Midwifery

6

1.45

Nursing

19

4.62

Technology

33

8.02

Membership to an Environmental

Member

42

10

Organization

Not a member

369

90

The program wherein most (81 or 19.7% of the 411 participants) students are enrolled in is Education. This is followed by Computer & IT students participants comprising 14.59% or 60 of the 411, Engineering students participants make up 13.13%, business and management students participants comprises 11.92%, 8.02% Technology student participants, Agriculture students participants make-up 6.3% of the 411, 4.86% accounting, 4.62% nursing, 4.62% AB, 2.8% BSBiology, 2.67% Criminology, 1.94% BSES, 1.7 marine technology, 1.45% Midwifery, 1.2% HRM, .72% law and graduate studies and .24% BSMath.

The top four of the nationwide percentage are the following: Business related courses have the most number of students enrolled nationwide (26%), followed by Education (18%), Engineering and Technology (15%) and 11% Computer related courses (Guzman, 2009). However, the result in this study has Education with the highest percentage because all participating schools had offered education courses. Whereas, the business courses are not offered in 3 of the 8 participating HEIs in this study.

As to membership to environmental organizations, students-participants who are members comprises 10% or 42 of the 411 students under study. Ninety percent or 369 of the students participants are not affiliated with any environmental organizations. This means that environmental organizations need to promote their group to increase the membership. There is also a need to organize environmental organizations for students to promote environmental awareness.

Extent of Environmental Education in Selected Higher Education Institutions in the Caraga Region

The extent of environmental education as to physical operations has the average mean of 3.12 and an SD of .44 verbally interpreted as often and qualitatively described as extensive. The highest mean among the indicators is the statement, Energy use is minimized by turning off lights and appliances which are not used (M=3.61, SD=.59). The indicator with the lowest mean is the statement, Use of materials and equipments which consume plenty of energy (M=2.66, SD=.90).

The majority of national and international declarations give token mention to the development of sustainable physical operations within the university. The best example is the WATgreen Committee of the University of Waterloo which is mandated to take into account both environmentally appropriate as well as financially sound practices. The committee has been very successful in being a leader in sustainability initiatives both within the university and the surrounding community, and has become fully integrated into the operations of the university (Wright, 2002). The result in this study shows that the students are well informed of the importance of environmentally friendly practices of physical operations within the institution.

The extent of environmental education as to research has the average M of 3.01 and an SD of .54 verbally interpreted as often and qualitatively described as extensive. The highest mean among the indicators used is the statement, Environmental studies that will provide answers to environmental problems is encouraged (M=3.22, SD=.82). The indicator with the lowest mean is the statement, Funds for all kinds of researches are available (M=2.75, SD=.86).

The findings mean that the extent of environmental education as to research is extensive. In fact, the first four indicators are very extensive. This result is a good indication that the HEIs in the Caraga Region are doing something about environmental researches which is very necessary for the sustainability of this part of the Philippines. However, it also indicates that there are still aspects of environmental research that needs improvement. The best thing about it is that, the result in this study pointed out the weaknesses and problems in research such as support, funds, instruments/equipments so that something could be done by the proper authorities to improve it.. This is in agreement with Galang (2010) that mentioned about key environmental research issues identified by the NEEAP that needs to be addressed such as insufficient facilities, equipment and research funding. According to Short (2010), one of the essential focus of environmental education is research. It is one of the main tasks of the universities which is considered an indirect environmental aspect and it is likely to have a considerable environmental impact (Sammalisto and Arvidsson, 2005).

Research is an important environmental component because encouragement of research related to environmental sustainability had always been mentioned in international declarations. For example, Principle 4 of the Kyoto Declaration implores universities to undertake environmental researches to attain sustainable development. On an institutional level, the University of British Columbia states that environmentally responsible research that is geared towards sustainability is desirable because it has economic and social advantages and ensures the long-term viability of the institution (Wright, 2002). Furthermore, higher educational institutions are increasingly focusing on environmental research due to the number of research results by which universities are pointed out to have long-term environmental impact (Sammalisto and Arvidsson, 2005).

The extent of environmental education as to environmental literacy has the average mean of 3.19 and an SD of .42, verbally interpreted as often and qualitatively described as extensive. The highest mean among the indicators is the statement, Having garbage bins that are properly labeled for the segregation of garbage (M=3.38, SD=.81). The indicator with the lowest mean is the statement, Sufficient funding for environmental related activities or projects (M=2.95, SD=.83).

One of the focuses of environmental education is the development of an environmentally literate and active citizenry capable of thinking critically about environmental issues to work toward improvement or maintenance of environmental conditions (Short, 2010). The results of this study indicate that the participants are environmentally literate, they are knowledgeable on environmental concepts and problems. This result is similar with the findings of Penado (2011) and Lunar (2011). This could be due to the efforts of the different government agencies such as DepED, CHED, TESDA, DSWD, DENR and DOST as mandated in section 3 of RA 9512. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources had also been conducting activities to promote environmental awareness. One such activity was the 2011 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly Schools (Manila Bulletin, 2011). They also gained knowledge from the integration of environmental concerns thru the NSTP-CWTS (Guzman,2010) which could be an additional positive factor.

The extent of environmental education as to ethical and moral responsibility has the average M of 3.03 and an SD of .46, verbally interpreted as often and qualitatively described as extensive. The highest mean among the indicators is the statement, Separating the biodegradable wastes from the non-biodegradable (M=3.32, SD=.86). The indicator with the lowest mean is the statement, Buying beverages in cans

is more convenient than the returnable or recyclable containers (M=2.72, SD=.89).

The results show that the participants described the extent of environmental education as extensive. Their in-depth knowledge on environmental ethics and moral responsibility are clearly proven by their responses on certain indicators which were negatively phrased environment related items. This could be attributed to the effects of the collaborative environmental campaigns done by the different government agencies. The result is an indication that environmental efforts are having positive effects, though it is far from perfect but still it is obviously going in the right direction. This is very important because the majority of national and international declarations tend to focus more on the ethical and moral responsibilities of universities to facilitate change. It is considered as a unifying theme among all declarations and policies to be leaders in promoting environmental sustainability (Wright, 2002).

The results of this study means that environmental education with the activities and practices that comes with it are often or extensively implemented and practiced. However, extensive means often which is still far from very extensive (means always) which is the highest parameter in this study for something that is done all the time. There is still a big difference between the two parameters because for environmental education to become a useful tool for environmental management, environmental measures, activities and practices must be done in a sustainable way. Thus, there are improvements that needs to be done on environmental education in the Higher Education Institutions in Caraga region.

Relationship Between the Perceptions on the extent of Environmental Education in Selected Higher Education Institutions in the Caraga Region and the HEI's School Profile.

Table 8. Relationship Between the Perceptions on the Extent of Environmental

Education in the Selected HEIs and the School Profile.

VARIABLES

r

p-value

DECISION

Perceptions vs

Number of years of existence

rxy = 0.14

.0010

Reject HO2

Type of HEI

rpb = 0.01

.7430

Do not Reject HO2

School location

rpb = 0.04

.3030

Do not Reject HO2

Student population

rxy = 0.01

.7690

Do not Reject HO2

The results of the test on the relationship between the perceptions on the extent of environmental education in selected HEIs in the Caraga Region and the HEIs profile is

presented in Table 8. The table shows that only one of the four variables, the number of years of existence has p-value lower than the 0.05 level of significance. This means that there is significant relationship between the perceptions on the extent of environmental education and the number of years of existence of the school.

The number of years of existence of the school is very important because it is one of the indicators of the performance of the school. Otherwise, the HEI could be closed if the performance is not good enough because of the government regulations on all HEIs. The well-established, older institutions usually have better performance because of their experience and there's the availability of resources necessary for the students to develop their fullest potential. In many cases, environment friendly practices and activities had already been made a part of the institution's culture due to the number of years of their existence. Such practices as turning off of lights when not in use to save energy, segregating garbages, buying energy efficient lighting system and others, had been proven by these well-established, older institutions to help them save energy and money. These environment-friendly activities could really be observed by everyone in the campus if it is really practiced or not.

Relationship Between the Perceptions of the Participants Regarding the Extent of Environmental Education of the Selected Higher Education Institutions and their Profiles

The relationship between the perceptions on extent of environmental education and the students' profile is shown in table 9. The only profile variable of the students that

Table 9. Relationship between the perceptions on extent of environmental education and the Students' Profile

VARIABLES

r

p-VALUE

DECISION

Perceptions vs

Age

rxy = 0.11

.0210

Do not Reject Ho3

Sex

rpb = -0.18

.0000

Reject Ho3

Program

rms = 0.01

.06

Do not Reject Ho3

M_Envi_Org

rpb = 0.03

.5540

Do not Reject Ho3

reject the hypothesis is the gender of the students with a p-value of .0000 which is lower than the 0.05 level of significance. The implication of this is that Students' perceptions on the extent of environmental education has significant relationship with the gender of the students. This is contrary to the results in Adlaon (2011) which reported to have no significant association between environmental awareness and the gender of the participants. The results in this study is in agreement with a study by Zelezny et al (2000) on gender differences in environmental attitudes and behaviors which reported that women have stronger environmental attitudes and behaviors than men. It was found that compared to males, females had higher levels of socialization to be other oriented and socially-responsible. Likewise, Lirgg (1994) revealed that males and females differ in their environmental perceptions. Further, cognitive and behavioral differences, verbal and mathematical ability are areas where differences have been found between men and women.

Conclusions

Environmental education as to physical operations, research, environmental

literacy, and ethical and moral responsibility is extensive for students. The number of years of existence of the HEI is a feature of the HEI that influences the perceptions on the extent of environmental education. And the students' gender is an aspect that influences the perceptions of the students on extent of environmental education.

Recommendations

Higher education institutions should formulate and develop an environmental

education framework and environmental policies of their own, adopting it from the NEEAP and modifying it to suit the environmental needs of their institution. Further research on environmental education and management is necessary in order for the higher education environmental movement to progress.

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