Geoscience literacy amongst students in secondary school level-a case study from India

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Das, Madhumita۱; Goswami, Shreerup۲
Holding Date 08 October 2008

Population explosion, increasing human intervention with nature, accelerating the process of development beyond the carrying capacity and environmental pollution have shown the warning signals in the form of climate change. So it is imperative to interlink environment and sustainable development involving educationists, scientific community, non-government sectors and industry.
It is important to educate the young minds about loving their environment and protecting it from further degradation. In a developing country like India, at the primary and secondary level of school education, environment should be linked with Science curriculum in an integrated manner. Geoscience provides an overall understanding of our physical environment. It not only helps in understanding the various geologic disasters but also helps us to protect ourselves. Although Geoscience is the basic component of all natural sciences, it is confined to a few pages in the Geography book in Indian science curriculum. It still has not occupied the status of other natural science subjects rather computer education has occupied a prominent space in the school curriculum of this information age. To assess the level of knowledge in Geoscience at secondary school level a survey was carried out amongst 18 schools of Bhubaneswar, India through questionnaire method. Questions were based on various fundamental aspects of geoscience viz. geologic hazards, natural resources, climatic changes and mainly on water related issues.
Some important findings are:
66% - have no knowledge regarding the Earth’s internal structure
82%- have no idea about the causes/relationship of Earthquakes and Tsunamis
32%- cannot distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources
75%- have no idea about rainwater harvesting
It is clear from the survey that the students are not aware of the change going on in the physical environment around them and most of the information they have gathered are from media but not from the curriculum.
Thus, to summarize, some of the steps to be undertaken are:
• Geoscience should be made compulsory at least up to higher secondary level.
• Students must do some authigenic field study followed by simple laboratory study that would make the subject more meaningful and interesting.
• A model curriculum of Geoscience should comprise Geology-50%, Astrnomy-10%, Meterology &Oceanography-10%, Natural resources conservation and management-20% and Disaster preparedness and management-10%
• While taking up the environmental issues, due importance should be given to the local phenomena that would generate the awareness in concrete terms.
• The syllabus of environmental education as proposed is not to let the subject remain an inert body of academic knowledge, but convert it into a vehicle of proactive consciousness about the environment and the requisite operational skills to respond to the environment problems.