Sociographic analysis of climate change awareness and pro-environmental behaviour of secondary school teachers and students in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria
Students’ and teachers’ awareness of climate change and pro-environmental behavior willingness reveal gender differences, and more
Environmental education (EE) and climate change education (CCE) are crucial tools for promoting climate change awareness and pro-environmental behaviors in students who will contribute to a more environmentally sustainable world. Some large-scale studies have been done on climate change awareness and have shown a higher level of awareness in developed countries in comparison to developing countries, but additional distinction is needed to better understand climate change awareness on local, regional, and national levels. This study investigated the degree to which students and teachers in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria were aware of climate change and were willing to engage in pro-environmental behavior. It also analyzed how climate change awareness and pro-environmental behavior correlated to each other, and how sociographical factors influenced both.
Although environmental knowledge does not always lead to pro-environmental behavior, previous studies have shown that information-deficiency in the environmental context can lead to a lack of pro-environmental behavior. Climate change education (CCE) aims to increase climate change literacy and awareness, while also providing skills to mitigate and adapt to climate change such as problem-solving, collaboration, green jobs training, and disaster risk management. In Nigerian public schools, CCE topics have been incorporated throughout different subjects within the curriculum. For example, Nigerian Geography curriculum includes topics such as global climate types, how those climates are changing, and the distribution of environmental resources.
This study took place in the Nsukka Local Government Area of Enuhu State, Nigeria. Four public secondary schools participated, which had a total population of 11,703 students and 1,375 teachers. These secondary schools included three grades each, but the exact ages of students were not reported. Surveys were randomly distributed to 335 students and 65 teachers in classrooms and in teacher staff rooms, though 312 completed student surveys and 56 teacher surveys were used in the data analysis. The survey started with background questions on demographics followed by the Awareness of Climate Change and Pro-Environmental Behavior and Willingness Questionnaire (ACCPEBWQ). In the ACCPEBWQ, 29 questions measured climate change awareness with a four-point Likert scale; choices ranged from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (4), while 15 questions measured willingness for pro-environmental behaviors on a four-point scale of not willing (1) to very much willing (4). Survey responses produced quantitative data that was analyzed to illuminate trends within the data.
The data analysis revealed that awareness of climate change (ACC) and pro-environmental behavior willingness (PEBW) were positively correlated, meaning those who had higher ACC also had higher PEBW. Analysis also revealed which demographic factors influenced both ACC and PEBW in student and teacher participants. Male students reported higher scores than female students in both ACC and PEBW, while gender did not significantly impact ACC or PEBW of teachers. These results conflicted with past studies which found either higher ACC and PEBW scores for females, or no significant gender-based difference. The author suggested that higher scores for males in this study may be related to how females in the region interacted with nature in largely domestic-focused tasks (gathering water and firewood) while males had more broad and frequent interactions with nature (e.g. logging and construction on previously natural areas).
The data from the self-reported surveys revealed differences in ACC and PEBW within urban and rural participants, but further data analysis showed that the differences were not significant. Students’ grade class was also not a significant predictor for ACC or PEBW. Academic discipline (arts, science, or social science) did not have a significant impact on students’ ACC, but was influential on students’ PEBW, with arts students reporting lower PEBW. In teachers, neither academic discipline nor education level (bachelor or master’s degree) had a significant impact on ACC or PEBW. Generally, teachers had higher scores than students in ACC, but not in PEBW.
This study had limitations. The author suggested that qualitative data on ACC and PEBW would have been useful to validate and better understand the quantitative ACC and PEBW scores collected in this study. In addition, self-reported PEBW may not be an accurate representation of participants’ actual environmental behaviors. This study was designed to focus on a specific region and academic setting and is not generalizable to the entire population of Nigeria or broader populations.
The authors recommend partitioners should continue to build ACC, as this study is evidence that ACC is positively linked to PEBW. Lower ACC and PEBW in female students are a concern. Teachers within this region of Nigeria should actively work to ensure that females have an equal level of ACC and PEBW in comparison to their male peers, and practitioners in general should be aware of, and work to correct, potential gender differences. Even though there was no statistically significant difference in ACC or PEBW by gender in teachers, female teachers did have slightly lower mean ACC and PEBW scores than males, suggesting that increasing ACC in female teachers is important as well. Arts students may have lower PEBW in comparison to science and social science students due to a smaller amount of CCE within their curriculum. To improve PEBW in arts students, teachers should incorporate educational materials such as texts, movies, and articles with climate change related content into curriculum.
The Bottom Line
Environmental education and climate change education aim to promote pro-environmental behaviors in the next generation. Awareness of climate change (ACC) has been connected to pro-environmental behavior willingness (PEBW), making the levels of ACC and PEBW in populations important to evaluate and understand. This study investigated self-reported ACC and PEBW in students and teachers within public secondary schools in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria. The study confirmed a positive relationship between ACC and PEBW in both students and teachers. Female students self-reported lower ACC and PEBW than male students, and lower PEBW was reported in arts students in comparison to students studying science or social science. The author suggested focusing on improving ACC in female students and incorporating materials with climate change content into arts curriculum.