He Whakaaro: How environmentally aware are New Zealand students?

Publication Details

This He Whakaaro | Education Insight paper uses data from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to examine the awareness of a range of environmental issues in New Zealand English-medium secondary students and how this has changed in the last decade

Author(s): Ministry of Education

Date Published: March 2019

Summary

In recent years there has been a rapid increase in the awareness of the changing environment and the impact of this upon humans.  With sustainability and environmental issues embedded in the New Zealand Curriculum, schools can play an important role, both in raising awareness of the environmental challenges facing the world, and in preparing learners to make a difference.

This report uses data from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to examine the awareness of a range of environmental issues in New Zealand English-medium secondary students and how this has changed in the last decade.

Key Findings

New Zealand 15-year-olds report low awareness of key environmental problems compared with most other countries. New Zealand students’ reported awareness of environmental problems fell between 2006 and 2015.

In New Zealand and around the world, students who are more aware of environmental problems tend to be more pessimistic about these problems getting better ‘in the next 20 years’, and New Zealand students’ level of optimism about the environment hasn’t changed since 2006. However, New Zealand is one of the few countries with both low awareness and low optimism.

Awareness of environmental issues is positively related to students’ scientific literacy, socioeconomic status, and engagement in science-related topics and activities, as well as with science teaching practices. New Zealand students’ drop in environmental awareness between 2006 and 2015 can be entirely explained by a corresponding drop in general science ability over the same period.

15-year-olds report that schools and media are the main sources from which they have learnt about environmental issues.

Environmental awareness is an imporant component of the curriculum, the Child Wellbeing Strategy, and our international obligations.

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