The study was undertaken to determine the competency needs of teachers in the multidisciplinary approach to implementation of environmental education curriculum in Cross River State, Nigeria. The study sought to find out whether teachers possess content knowledge of EE curriculum and also determine whether teachers` factors such as gender, subject specialization, qualification, experience and their location significantly influence their basic knowledge and competency needs in the implementation of environmental education. Seven research questions were posed out of which six hypotheses were formulated to guide the study. The study adopted the descriptive survey design. The sample consisted of 737 teachers proportionally sampled from 67 public secondary schools in the three education zones of Cross River State. The teacher competency needs questionnaire in the implementation of environmental education curriculum containing competency needs and content knowledge items was used for data collection. The data were analyzed using means, standard deviation, t-test, chi-square, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple regressions. The data analyzed showed that majority of the teachers possessed adequate knowledge of environmental education concepts in the four broad areas: ecological foundation, human environment, environment change and impact and sustainable development. The result revealed that teachers however do not have adequate knowledge in components of the solar system and sources of earth’s energy. The results showed that the teachers need competency in 8 areas out of 37. The results revealed that teachers possessed the input capability needed to implement EE curriculum. The results revealed that teachers’ years of teaching experience, educational qualification and school environment significantly influence their competency needs. The results revealed that teachers with 6-15years are better prepared to implement EE curriculum. The results also revealed that teachers’ subject area and gender have no significant influence on their competency needs in the implementation of environmental education curriculum. Based on the findings, it was recommended among others that the multidisciplinary approach should be adopted in the implementation of EE curriculum. Teachers’ qualification and experience must continue to receive constant attention through training, retraining and incentives so as to have competent teachers who will implement the EE curriculum. In-service training programmes should be organized on the basis of teachers’ competency needs.



Background to the Study

There is an increasingly global consciousness on the quality of the environment and this has reached an all-time high priority drawing international attention. For instance, the United Nations (UN) Earth Summit in 1992; the 1994 UN convention to combat desertification; Kyoto protocol in 1997 and the 2003 UN decade for sustainable development are concerted efforts by the international community to save the environment. In the face of all these efforts, there has been a global tidal wave of environmental degradation occurring in a most consistent and most often irreversible manner.  Humans are confronted daily with several environmental misdemeanours ranging from local to global problems. The United Nation Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (2005) reported that the world’s biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate requiring important efforts and new thinking on conservation.

The vision 2010 committee (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1997) catalogued Nigeria’s environmental problems to include erosion (sheet, gully, coastal), flooding (coastal, river, urban), drought and desertification, oil pollution, urban decay, industrial pollution and waste, municipal solid waste and loss of biodiversity. These problems have also been identified by some researchers (Asthana &Asthana, 2003). United Nation Education Scientific and Culture Organization (UNESCO) (1983 &1985) has also listed famine, soil erosion, diseases and poor sanitation as problems confronting the less developed countries, like Nigeria.

Human activities are largely responsible for environmental change and degradation. The degradation of the environment in part has its antecedent from the human frontier mentality based on two assumptions. First is that the earth has an unlimited supply of resources for human use to which Miller (1975) advocated full exploitation to advance human civilization. Based on this assumption, people have employed advanced and sophisticated technology for the intensification of the exploitation of resources within the environment. According to Emeh (1997), there is a gradual but painful realization of the falsehood of this assumption evidenced from the myriads of environmental problems. The second assumption is that humans see themselves as separate from the environment rather than being a part of it. This anthropocentric view of humans has led to a seemingly biological terrorism; an attempt to overcoming nature to fulfill their needs with little regard for the consequences (Omoogun, 2004).  

It is generally recognized that though immense attention is being paid to the environment (United Nations conferences\ summits), the quest for a better environment seem far from being proportionately satisfactory. Many ways of curbing environmental problems have been proffered and various reforms suggested.  Many actions have been taken to halt degradation of the environment. For instance, there are  remedial approaches through improved technology that should reduce emission and conserve energy use. There are also the industrial approach through auditing, monitoring and information;  the scientific approach which provide quality guidelines e.g. water quality, rate of emissions etc; and then public approach through the activities of Non-governmental organizations, legislation and green consumerism (Ryding,1998  ). However, all these approaches have not been able to halt environmental degradation. Newson (1992:81) citing Caldwell observed that “Environmental crisis is an outward manifestation of a crisis of the mind, the kind of creatures we are and what we must become in order to survive.” Timmerman and Burton (1990) similarly noted that our attitude towards the environment does predict a variety of our behaviour towards the environment. 

It is common knowledge that schools are the custodians of society’s culture, and they perform a variety of functions in a given society. Johnson, Dupuis, Musial and Hall (1994) have enumerated these school functions as follows:

i.          Reproduction: Schools act to preserve tradition and heritage, and they carry out decisions about what to teach based on the customs and traditions of the past.

ii          Readjustment: Schools alter programmes in response to social change.

iii.        Reconstruction: Schools are agents of change in the society.

Citing the colonial reliance on education to transform the natives, Emeh (2002) affirmed that the educational system and its institutions have always functioned as revolutionary, reformationary, and conservationary. This perhaps informed the world wide conviction that environmental education is vital for achieving success in the

domain of environmental conservation and    sustainability(Michaelis,1980;Duguet,1992;Emeh,2002;UNESCO,2003). Environmental education also emerged as a cultural response to international awareness that human beings were having negative impact on their environments and causing ecological and social crises.

The intergovernmental conference on Environmental Education convened by UNESCO in cooperation with United Nation Environmental Programme [UNEP] in Tbilisi, in 1977 recommended the development of school curriculum in Environmental Education with the following three goals:

a.   foster clear awareness of and concern about economic, social, political and ecological interdependence in urban and rural areas;

b.   provide every person with opportunities, to acquire the knowledge, values, attitudes, to improve the environment; and

c.   create new patterns of behaviour of individuals, groups and societies as a whole towards the environment (Eguabor, 1999).

 Environmental Education (EE) is concerned with teaching conceptual knowledge and skills for monitoring and measuring environmental quality, and also with the development of the values and attitudes which will motivate and empower individuals and groups to work and promote the sustainability of natural and social environments. Thus, the important attributes of Environmental Education include the creation of environmental awareness, strong concern for the environment and active participation in promoting environmental conservation.  It is a subject necessary for every individual in the society, since every member of the society has something to do with the environment. This is perhaps why Gifford, Hay and Boros (1982) opined that a well-educated populace is the best insurance for  preservation of  the environment. Similarly, Ezeanya (1999) asserted that environmental education is essential to change the destructive relationship between human and the rest of nature. Ukpong (1993) emphasized the importance of environmental education in achieving the goals of environmental protection and management. He stressed various educational strategies such as analysis, sensitization, information and education among others that can provoke knowledge that would change the attitude and values towards the environment.      

To prepare students with positive attitude towards the environment underscores the advocacy for Environmental Education. Environmental Education is seen as a viable means of solving environmental problems. Jacobson (1985) summed up the aim of Environmental Education to include: helping individuals to acquire an awareness of and sensitivity to the total environment and to develop a basic understanding, skills, values of the total environment and the interrelationship between man and the environment

     The development of Environmental Education Curriculum appears cogent and realistic at this time, since ignorance has been identified among the major problems hindering popular participation in environmental conservation. In furtherance of the UNESCO/UNEP (1977) recommendation, the Nigerian Education Research and Development Council (NERDC, 1998) developed the Environmental Education Curriculum for all the tiers of the education system-  primary , junior secondary , and senior secondary schools and the non-formal education. The curriculum has three major objectives:

  1. acquiring knowledge and understanding of the environment.
  2. developing skills for solving environmental problems.
  3. developing attitudes and  values for the environment.

To achieve the objectives the curriculum is structured into ecological foundations; human environment and development; environmental change and impact; and sustainable development. These are further divided into sub themes and the teacher is expected to incorporate them into existing school subjects. 

                        The formal education system in Nigeria is organized in subject department basis and new subject which arise as a result of societal needs and demands will always be difficult to be introduced. Inyang-Abia (2001), many strategies have been suggested for adoption of EE in order to achieve the goals and objectives of environmental education. Among such strategies are:

i. The introduction of environmental studies as a special subject taught by specially trained teachers. This entails offering EE as a course of study.

ii.The introduction of environmental education issues into the various traditional subjects such as mathematics, English, history, science etc without having a need to design new courses or units. This is also known as the infusion approach as it involves the proper conceptualization of the link between EE concepts and the other contents within a subject.

iii.The multidisciplinary approach: This is the approach in which EE is taught in two or more disciplines expressed in terms of interrelationship regarding EE issues. This approach is anchored on the fact that EE is not a new  subject or discipline but that it is rather the orientation and dovetailing of different subjects and disciplines drawing from and striking a relationship between all these subjects. This is usually with modification of the subject matter in the traditional school subjects in line with the scope, aims, objectives, strategies and guiding principles of environmental education.

The International Conference on Environmental Education (1977) in Belgrade and the Intergovernmental Environmental Education Conference (1977) in Tbilisi recommended that environmental education is to be taught using the multidisciplinary approach. It is argued by many researchers that separate subject approach is not suitable for teaching EE at the secondary school level, because the time table at this level is already crowded (Noibi, 1990; Yisa, 1990); that many teachers have not been trained for the implementation of  EE (Eguabor, 1999; Emeh, 2006); and that since environmental matters cut across boundaries of regular knowledge classification it gives validity to the multidisciplinary approach chosen by the National Council on Education (Abdullahi, Ango and Olarinoye, 2000). Under the multidisciplinary approach, topics in Environmental Education are plugged at appropriate points in the existing subjects which serve as the carriers of Environmental Education messages and concepts. By this approach, the environmental education curricular would be implemented through all the traditional school subjects taught in the schools. UNESCO-UNEP (1997) indicated that the choice of a particular approach in curriculum development involves a consideration of the following aspects; ease of implementation, teacher competencies and training demand or curriculum load, ease of curriculum development and evaluation.

At the center of all these is the teacher who ultimately is the implementer of the curriculum. On a general note, the disposition of teachers is very essential in the implementation of any curriculum. Onwuka (1996:211) commented on the importance of teachers noting the need to involve the teacher in all phases of curriculum planning can hardly be over emphasized. To begin with, that a curriculum has been designed to feature appropriate educational experiences is no guarantee that corresponding appropriate educational experiences will result. Much of the educational experience which may result in the end will depend on teachers. It is on the efforts of teachers that a curriculum which has been designed by planners in a society depends, to a large extent, for its success in terms of leading to appropriate ends of education in the society. Teachers are a key factor in the operation and for the success of curriculum; they are indispensable in the educative process.

Behind every successful implementation of curriculum project or policy are highly trained, motivated and efficient classroom teachers (Usman and Agwagah, 2001). The National Policy on Education (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004:39) observed that ‘no educational system or policy can rise above the quality of its teachers’. The role of teachers in achieving a sustainable environment via the implementation of Environment Education is a very cardinal one. Mgbodile (2003) had noted that the importance of the teacher in determining the tempo of curricular and methodology cannot be underestimated. He noted that plans and policies can be well laid on paper, the implementation strategies well outlined, and the organizational structure well set but it is the teacher factor that stands as the deciding factor in terms of whether or not the desired goals and objectives which had informed all the efforts can be achieved.

Many researchers have reiterated the fact that teacher disposition and characteristics which includes -what teachers think, believe and do, their experience, qualification, sex and location of teaching ultimately determine their level of performance and the quality of education (Ogah, 2004; Odetoyinbo, 2004; Domike, 2002; Onwuka, 1996). Kosemani and Kpolovie (2003) revealed that teachers tend to perceive distinct needs according to their personal factors such as qualification, teaching experience, knowledge of subject matter, gender, school location and their area of specialization. The successful implementation of any curriculum requires the availability of trained and experience teachers.  Studies (Agbor, 2005 and Okonkwo, 2000) revealed that qualification of teachers affects school achievement to the extent that academically qualified teachers have shown the tendency to succeed more than their non-qualified counterpart. Agbor noted that the adequately qualified teachers have the confidence and courage to use their initiative and the experience.

The teacher is seen by Emah (1998) as a significant component of the classroom, positing that male and female teachers differ significantly in several educationally relevant ways. Such differences they observed have negative effects on the classroom environment such that students perceive classes taught by male and female teachers differently. The instructional behaviour of teachers during classroom interactions appears to exert the most pervading influence on gender issues. Gender inequality in achievement attitude and interest in many fields of studies has remained a contentions issue.

 Schools in Nigeria are located in two different types of environment, urban and rural areas. Studies (0konkwo, 1997 and Bob-Manuel 1997) indicated that a child’s location could positively affect his or her achievements in school. Also Okonkwo (2000) further confirmed that location of school and the type of school can affect academic performance of JSS 1 students in mathematics It might be very interesting to know  how teachers’ factors  influence competency needs in EE.

The objectives of teaching EE include: sensitizing the learners by creating awareness about the environment and its problems; helping individuals acquire knowledge about the environment; changing the destructive attitude of people towards the environment; developing skills to solve environmental problems and encouraging individuals to participate in resolving environmental issues. For teachers to do all these they must possess   relevant competencies.  According to Adara (1992) competencies needed for the protection of the environment  include knowledge and skills which can only be acquired through education, particularly Environmental Education.

Competency needs involve the identification of relevant knowledge and skills required in order to carry out a particular operation effectively and efficiently. According to Agbor (2005), competency involved having a sound knowledge of the subject matter and of the methods of effectively imparting the facts and skills relating to the subjects. Esu (1995) explained that in relation to classroom instruction, a competent teacher is one who carries out effective teaching. She emphasized that competency involves knowledge of the subject matter. Generally, Esu (1995) described competency as the knowledge, skills, attitudes and judgement which are required for the successful performance of a task rather than all the components comprising the tasks. As Enukoha (1991) insisted that the objective of teaching would still not be achieved if the teacher does not understand the subject matter adequately.

According to Olaitan, Igbo, Nwachukwu, Onyemachi and Ekong (1999) steps involved in identification of competency needs include

  1. identification of all tasks or jobs to be learnt-ability to state teaching objectives for EE implementation,
  2. determine what one would need to know and do in order to perform the identified tasks or jobs-knowledge of subject matter in EE,
  3. arrangement of tasks and jobs into appropriate courses ability to develop units through teaching subjects to implement EE curriculum,
  4. organize knowledge and skill for each task ability to develop lesson plan through teaching subject to implement EE curriculum,
  5. determine what one needs to know for mastery of each knowledge and skills-the ability to evaluate learning in EE.

Basically, EE curriculum has been developed by NERDC and the council has appropriately identified the content area to include four broad areas namely, ecological foundation, human environment, environmental change and sustainable development. Ecological foundation consists of abiotic and biotic components, ecosystems as well as energy flow with the systems.The human environment comprises population and human activities in the environment. Environmental change and impact consist of pollution, wildlife management, soil erosion among others. Sustainable development includes methods of conserving bio-diversity and how to use environmental resources without degrading them. Teachers are expected, therefore, to possess the ability to articulate the contents on EE to enable them implement it.

Cross River is adjudge as a clean and green state an inspection of the state of the environment across some schools in Cross River State by the researcher showed a dismal picture. The sanitary conditions in most of the schools visited are in a poor state; and the aesthetics of the environment very unattractive. Many of the schools have no single flower to beautify the school environment and even in areas prone to wind storm, trees are conspicuously absent. Students also revealed poor knowledge of environmental concepts and environmental problems which leads to wonder at the state of implementation of EE.  

Under the multidisciplinary approach every teacher is expected to infuse EE concepts in the subject s/he teaches. To do this effectively, they must first possess adequate input capability, and the ability to articulate the content of EE curriculum. However, Noibi (1990) found out that less than 25% of secondary school teachers use the physical environment to teach despite its functionality, 40% never use the physical environment to teach. According to him, most teachers are handicapped in effective teaching which involves the use of the physical environment.

 It is on the basis of this background that the present study is designed to find out the relationship between some of these teachers’ factors and teachers’ competency needs in implementing EE curriculum.

Statement of the Problem

    The educational system has understandably been looked upon as a viable means of influencing the behaviour of man and future generations. The focal point or core area of any form of education is the curriculum. It is on the curriculum that we build the expectations for students, the materials to be used in the teaching and learning process and the training for teachers. Environmental Education curricula have been developed in Nigeria by the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC, 1998) for the secondary schools.

Even though Cross River is adjudge as a clean and green state an inspection of the state of the environment across some schools in Cross River State by the researcher showed a dismal picture. In most of the schools visited, the sanitary conditions are very poor; and the aesthetics of the environment very unattractive. Many of the schools have no single flower to beautify the school environment and even in areas prone to wind storm, trees are conspicuously absent. An interactive session with some of the students revealed their poor knowledge of environmental concepts and environmental problems. These lead one to wonder at the state of implementation of EE.  

The most important element in the implementation of the Environmental Education curricula is the teacher. One of the several factors that militate against learning outcome according to Arends (1991) is the teacher’s inefficiency in using proper sets of plans and actions that could result in effective academic achievement of students. Training personnel especially teachers came out in a survey (UNESCO/UNEP, 1997) as the greatest need of environmental education on a world-wide scale. Noibi (1990) noted that, inadequate curriculum content of environmental education is not only the challenge facing environmental education but inadequate teacher preparation. He found out that less than 25% of secondary schools used the physical environment to teach or make analogy with it. All these imply that most teachers are handicapped in effective teaching which requires the use of the physical environment.

Given the multidisciplinary approach, all teachers are involved in the implementation of environmental education curriculum through the subject they teach. Do they possess the basic knowledge in ecological foundations; human environment and development; environmental change and impact; and sustainable development required to teach EE? What would the teachers require or need to possess in order to effectively implement EE curriculum within the purview of the multidisciplinary approach? Teacher characteristics play a very crucial role in determining the effectiveness of teaching and learning. What are the influences of the teacher’s subject, qualification, experience, gender and the location of the area where they teach on their needs?

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to determine the competency needs of teachers in the implementation of the Environmental Education curriculum. Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Assess the basic knowledge of teachers in EE curriculum.

      2. Determine what the teacher requires to implement EE curriculum  

      3. Establish the influence of teachers`gender on their competency needs in EE.

      4. Determine the influence of teaching subject area on teachers’ competency needs in EE.

 5 .Establish the influence of teachers` experience on their competency needs in EE.

  • Establish the influence of teachers`qualification on their competency needs in EE.
  • Establish the influence of teachers`school location on their competency needs in EE.
  • Find out the inter-relationship among the various teachers`factors and their competency needs in EE.

Significance of the Study

Environmental education holds the key to developing the necessary attitudes, values, skills, and knowledge required for a sustainable society. This can be done by the conscious inclusion of environmental issues in the school curriculum. The issue of teachers` competence in this regard cannot be over stressed. The findings of the study identify the competency needs which the teachers possess and the ones they need for the implementation of EE curriculum.

The findings of this study are also very useful to curriculum planners as it will draw their attention to the multidisciplinary nature of EE. This awareness will enhance the designing of pre-service and in-service programmes that will include appropriate knowledge and skills needed for implementing Environmental Education. Furthermore, the findings would provide information that will stimulate the organization of workshops, conferences and seminars for environmental educators in curriculum planning and implementation as well as the review of curriculum at the various subject levels to reflect some key areas of Environmental Education especially acquisition of relevant competence for the multidisciplinary approach.

The findings of the study are also of immense benefits to the Ministry of Education and Supervisors as they will become more aware of the importance of promoting EE in schools and the necessary competency needed for the implementation of EE.  Teachers would also benefit from the results of this work. They would become more aware of the competencies needed for their effective participation in the multidisciplinary approach to implementing Environmental Education Curriculum. It would also enable them to apply the identified competencies in the improvement of their individual classroom instruction for their students.

Students would also ultimately benefit from the findings of this study. Improved competencies needs would enhance teacher’s effectiveness in the teaching of environmental issues that would make the students become more aware of environmental issues.  Generally as teachers become more committed to the issues of the environment within the school curriculum, the school will produce students who are well informed about the environment and who would become defenders of environmental issues since they are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills in environmental issues. The findings of this study may form the basis on which policy statements would be made that will enhance the successful implementation of Environmental Education in school curriculum. The results of the study would draw more interest to the environment in relation to its use and protection. This will have an overall positive effect especially in the attainment of sustainable development and environmental protection and management. Textbook authors would find the results of the study a relevant tool for the selection of curriculum contents and materials that will enhance the multidisciplinary approach to implementation of EE

Finally, the results of the study would be a significant addition to the literature base in teacher competency and provide empirical evidence on the efficacy of teachers` competence in implementing EE in schools and the role played by subject area, qualification, experience and location of teachers on their competence to implement EE in schools. This could form the basis for further research.

Scope of the Study

The study determined teachers’ competency needs for the implementation of the Junior Secondary School Environmental Education curriculum. Teachers’ knowledge of EE curriculum contents and the extent to which their teaching subjects prepared them to implement the contents were determined. Also the influences of teachers’ subject, qualification, experience, location and gender on competency needs in Environmental Education were also studied.

The study covered the junior secondary school level in Cross River State where a great proportion of the subjects are integrative.

Research Questions

The following research questions guided the study.

1. What is the basic knowledge of teachers in EE?

2. What does the teacher requires or need for the implementation of EE curriculum?

3. What influence does teacher’s teaching subject area  has on competency needs in the implementation of EE curriculum?

4. To what extent does gender influence competency needs of teachers in the implementation of EE curriculum?

5. What influence does teacher’s experience has on competency needs in the implementation of EE curriculum?

6. Does teacher’s qualification influence their competency needs in the implementation of EE curriculum?

7.  What influence does teacher’s school location has on competency needs in the implementation of EE curriculum?


The following hypotheses are formulated to guide the study and will be tested at the 0.05 alpha level of significance.                             

Ho1       There is no significant difference in the mean rating of various teaching subject of teachers on their competency needs in implementing environmental education

Ho2       There is no significant difference in the mean rating of male and female teachers on their competency needs in implementing Environmental Education Curriculum.

Ho3       There is no significant difference in the mean rating of teachers with below six years, between six and fifteen years and above fifteen years of teaching experience on their competency needs in implementing EE.                       

Ho4       There is no significant difference in the mean rating of teachers with NCE, Degrees and higher degrees on their competency needs in implementing EE.                       

Ho5       There is no significant difference in the mean rating of urban and rural teachers on their competency needs in implementing Environmental Education Curriculum.

 Ho6      When taken together there is no significant interrelationship among the various teachers`factors and teacher’s competency needs in EE.