The Influence of Culture on Environmental Education in a Rural School in Paraguay
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Despite the need for international data regarding environmental education (EE), published research regarding this topic in Paraguay is non-existent. The context of a culturally diverse community necessitates a thorough study of how EE and environmental literacy (EL) are perceived and implemented in schools. The goal of this research was to understand relationships between environmental knowledge, attitude and behaviors through the analysis of demographic and background factors. Through a mixed-methods, ethnographic approach, data about the EE in this study’s focal school was collected through EL surveys, content analysis of science textbooks, science teacher interviews, and science class observations. These methods provided a more in-depth look at EE concepts being taught and a better understanding of cultural and/or demographic factors that may be influencing EE at the focal school. Survey data analysis revealed that certain demographic factors predicted student EL survey scores and that teachers possess a significantly higher level of local knowledge and pro-environmental attitudes towards the fragility of nature’s balance and the possibility of an ecocrisis. Content analysis revealed that while environmental knowledge is well-covered, skill, affective and action components of EL are lacking in textbooks. Interview and observation data confirmed this but also revealed that significant themes regarding EE in the focal school could be categorized into: prevalent environmental issues, teacher pedagogy and barriers to EE. Overall, EL was found to be very low at this school and improvement necessitates the presence of teacher training specific to EE.