The purpose of the study was to assess the extent of students’ achievement of environmental contents of social studies in Nsukka Education Zone of Enugu State. Eight research questions guided the study and eight null hypotheses were tested. Literature was reviewed under four major sub-headings namely conceptual framework, theoretical framework, review of empirical studies, and summary of literature. The study adopted descriptive research design. The population of the study was two thousand four seventy-five (2475) senior secondary one (SS1) students. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to draw a sample size of seven hundred and twenty (720) SS1 students. Structured questionnaire developed by the researcher and validated by research experts was used for data collection. The instrument yielded overall reliability index of 0.88. The data collected were analyzed using mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions while t-test was used to analyzed the null hypotheses. The findings of the study were that there is no significant difference between male and female students’ mean score on their awareness of environmental problems, that there is a significant difference between urban and rural students’ mean score on their awareness of environmental problem, that there is no significant difference between male and female students’ mean score on their attitude towards environmental problems and issues, that there is a significant difference between urban and rural students’ mean score on their attitude towards environmental problems and issues, that there is no significant difference between male and female students’ mean score on their possession of the requisite skills for solving environmental problems, that there is a significant difference between urban and rural students’ mean score on their possession of the requisite skills for solving environmental problems, that there is no significant difference between male and female students’ mean score on their willingness to participate in environmental protection activities, and that there is a significant difference between urban and rural students’ mean score on their willingness to participate in environmental protection activities. Based on the findings of the study, conclusions were drawn and relevant recommendations were made.
Background of the Study
Environmental issues and concerns have dominated the news and public discourse at local and international levels this millennium. This trend towards global environmental concern anchored on the fact that it is becoming obvious to man that the future welfare of human and animal population is threatened by various environmental phenomena such as erosion, drought, desertification and climate change. These environmental phenomena explain the concerted efforts of the government of different countries of the world including Nigeria and numerous international organizations in combating various kinds of environmental threatening events in the society.
The interest and concern for the environment were as a result of several conferences organized at the instance of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). These conferences were aimed at sensitizing the world population to acquire among other things knowledge, values, interest, skills and positive attitudes towards the environment and its associated problems which now threatens human existence on earth. In order to effectively inculcate relevant knowledge, values, skills and attitude that will enable the global citizens to interact in a friendly and sustainable manner with their environment, environmental education was introduced in schools.
Environmental education means the education of the learners on the importance of the environment on man, and the need to harness environmental resources in a friendly and sustainable manner. According to Santo (2000), environmental education is the process of recognizing values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the interrelatedness among (human kind), (their) culture and (their) biophysical surroundings. According to Sampson (2013), the central target of environmental education is to teach the students to have knowledge and ability to deal (friendly) with the environment in which they live, including learning about their community, government of their country, the world around them and the need to take care of the environment (p.34).
In the same vein, Kumler (2010) maintained that environmental education targets at making sure that students in their environment extend to the acquisition of right values and attitudes which will lead to desired behavioural changes in using environmental resources. In agreement with the above, Ekhator and Amayo (2001) noted that the enormity of the environmental problems in Nigeria warrants more conscious training and education programme for conservation and sustainable development.
Interestingly, environmental education currently being emphasized in Nigeria school system is primarily conceived with providing learners with values, attitudes, skills and knowledge necessary for studying the relationship between mankind and his environment. This however will enable the learners to identify environmental problems around them as well as participate actively in bringing solutions to the identified problems and by extension achieved the objectives of environmental education.
The objectives of environmental education as identified by Yoloye (2001) include developing in the learner awareness of his environment, knowledge of his environment, positive attitude towards his environment, skills for solving environmental problems and willingness to participate actively in environmental protection. Currently, environmental education is not taught as a separate subject particularly at basic education level. Environmental education contents such as physical environment, bush burning, deforestation, erosion, earth quake etc are rather infused in relevant basic education subjects like social studies.
Social studies is popularly defined as a subject that deals with man and his relation with the social and physical environment. Social studies is an interdisciplinary curriculum content that attempt to unify knowledge that cut across various disciplines of the social sciences in dealing with societal problems of family relations, civic affairs, community life, health production, consumption, recreation, environmental conservation etc. Akinlaye (2003) expressed the view that the central focus of social studies is the interrelationship of man and his environment. Social studies also deals with the influence man exerts on his environment. Implied from this view is that social studies education has relationship with environmental education, since social studies is focused on man and his environment. In support of the above, Onuoha (2004) noted that social studies education is a suitable programme for promoting environmental education in Nigeria. According to Ezeudu (2003), environmental education is extended through the study of social studies, focusing on the interactions of human with their physical, social and psychological environmental problems.
Indeed, social studies is a contemporary and environmentally focused field of study and therefore provides the learner with requisite knowledge, values, skills, attitudes and competencies to contribute meaningfully to Nigeria’s national development. Indeed, quality national development can only occur in a society where citizens have, amongst other things, environmental resource sustainability attitude. Social studies equips people with moral and rational decision making judgment to become useful contributors of ideal (on environmental resource management), knowledge (about their environment) and skills (for environmental sustainability).
No doubt, social studies education is a veritable channel of producing environmental responsible citizens. It is a programme of study which a society uses to instill in the students the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values considered important for effective human relationship and interaction (Mezieobi, Mezieobi, Ossai and Sampson, 2013). Social studies is viewed as a programme that provides adequate knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that will enable people to understand their physical and human environment in order to act or behave as responsible citizens. The implication of this is that social studies is a specific subject that is centered on one’s environment-physical as well as human and how to develop those skills, knowledge, attitudes and values that characterized responsible citizenry in a free society.
Based on this position, it is obvious that the junior secondary school social studies is a vital element for inculcating environmental education contents to the learners. Social studies curriculum content is focused on the study of man and his environment. However, the major worry of the present study is that notwithstanding the fact that environmental education contents in social studies curriculum have been promoted over the years; the events in Nsukka education zones have left everybody in doubt as to the extent of achievement of the environmental education in schools. According to Anyadike (2009), some of the events which are unfriendly to the environment noticeable in Nsukka education zone include indiscriminate burning of bush for hunting which in most uncontrollable cases destroyed human valuable properties; indiscriminate dumping of refuse; and constant falling of trees among others.