Environmental education in its infancy at Lake Alaotra, Madagascar. Lena Reibelt. Madagascar Conservation & Development.

Environmental education in its infancy at Lake Alaotra, Madagascar

Lena M. Reibelt, Torsten Richter, Patrick O. Waeber, Sandanionja Rakotoarimanana, Jasmin Mantilla-Contreras

Abstract


Madagascar is renowned for its unique biodiversity but also for the continuous degradation of its natural environment and its high poverty rate. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental education has been assigned a key role. In the lake Alaotra region, Madagascar’s most important rice and inland fish production area, primary schools are the sole formal education for the majority of the population. In order to gain an overview on the education of ‘tomorrow’s’ resource users, this study assessed the general state of the school system and of environmental education in particular. The focus was on understanding local definitions of environmental education, its application and local perceptions of environmental problems. Over 50 in - depth interviews were conducted using the Funnel approach with teachers from 18 public primary schools. The interviews were supplemented with focus groups and a participatory problem analysis workshop. Teachers in the Alaotra region provided a different definition of environmental education than the United Nations. Their focus is on social aspects rather than the actual problems of the natural environment, which represents a different point of view than non - governmental organizations (NGOs) from abroad, who are the main promoters of environmental education in the area. This indicates that education for sustainable development might be more suitable in the region than the currently promoted environmental education. When developing educational programs, it is important to include the teachers in the development processes to ensure inclusion of local views and needs. This will increase the probability that such programs are locally meaningful and useful.

 

RÉSUMÉ

Si Madagascar est réputée pour sa biodiversité unique, elle l’est aussi pour la dégradation de son environnement naturel et son taux de pauvreté élevé. L’éducation à l’environnement est un élément important dans l’accès au développement durable. Dans la région Alaotra qui est le principal producteur de riz et de poissons d’eau douce de Madagascar, l’éducation est dispensée presqu’exclusivement par les écoles primaires pour la majorité de la population limitrophe du lac Alaotra. Pour comprendre globalement l’éducation des futurs utilisateurs des ressources, l’étude a évalué la situation qui prévaut dans le système scolaire en général et celui de l’éducation environnementale en particulier. Les travaux se sont concentrés sur les définitions locales de l’éducation environnementale, sa mise en œuvre et les per­ceptions locales des problèmes environnementaux. Plus de 50 interviews détaillées ont été réalisées avec des enseignants de 18 écoles primaires sous méthode Funnel. Les interviews ont été complétées par des groupes de discussion et un atelier participatif portant sur l’analyse du problème. Les enseignants de la région de l’Alaotra ont énoncé une définition différente de l’éducation environnementale que celle proposée par les Nations Unies. Leur priorité porte davantage sur les aspects sociaux que sur les problèmes de l’environnement naturel lui-même, divergeant ainsi du point de vue des organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) étrangères, qui sont actuellement les principaux promoteurs de l’éducation environnementale dans la région. Il apparait ainsi que l’éducation portant sur le développement durable pourrait être plus appropriée que l’éducation environnementale. Lors de l’élaboration des programmes éducatifs, il est donc important d’inclure des enseignants pour veiller à ce que les visions et besoins locaux soient considérés, ce qui donnera plus de chances aux dits programmes de prendre du sens et de servir leur dessein.

 


Keywords


environmental education, sustainable development, school system, value system

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mcd.v9i2.3

Madag. conserv. dev.
ISSN: 1662-2510