The State-of-Rivers reporting range is a key communication tool of the South African River Health Programme. For the younger audience, non-verbal posters and activity books are used within South-Africa’s outcomes based education (OBE) system, and more specifically the curriculum’s water theme.

During 2007 a study was conducted in randomly selected schools to determine whether SoR communication materials contain sufficient information in the appropriate format to improve learners’ understanding of the benefits that healthy rivers provide, increase their awareness of adverse impacts on rivers, and change their attitudes towards river conservation.

Through questionnaires and poster/ participatory evaluations the level of awareness of grade 1 to 3 learners was determined. After allowing sufficient time for facilitators to use the material during classroom activities, evaluations were repeated. Both open and closed questions were used to determine whether learners understand the concepts of good and bad impacts on rivers.

Although intended for active use within the OBE curriculum, in many sample areas the books were used for self study to keep the learners busy. Despite this, poster evaluations indicated that learners increased their understanding of good practices and could identify activities that are impacting negatively on our rivers.

Future activity book developments should align closer with the current curriculum water theme, which focuses on water use and the water cycle. It is also suggested that fundamental ecosystem learning be introduced in the curriculum amongst younger learners. Although the above could contribute, an understanding of the social, economical and cultural backgrounds of learners are needed before a meaningful intervention can take place.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

River conservation -effectiveness of State-of-Rivers communication material in education

Wilma Strydom   CSIR

Karen Esler   University of Stellenbosch

Martin Kidd   University of Stellenbosch

The State-of-Rivers reporting range is a key communication tool of the South African River Health Programme. For the younger audience, non-verbal posters and activity books are used within South-Africa’s outcomes based education (OBE) system, and more specifically the curriculum’s water theme.

During 2007 a study was conducted in randomly selected schools to determine whether SoR communication materials contain sufficient information in the appropriate format to improve learners’ understanding of the benefits that healthy rivers provide, increase their awareness of adverse impacts on rivers, and change their attitudes towards river conservation.

Through questionnaires and poster/ participatory evaluations the level of awareness of grade 1 to 3 learners was determined. After allowing sufficient time for facilitators to use the material during classroom activities, evaluations were repeated. Both open and closed questions were used to determine whether learners understand the concepts of good and bad impacts on rivers.

Although intended for active use within the OBE curriculum, in many sample areas the books were used for self study to keep the learners busy. Despite this, poster evaluations indicated that learners increased their understanding of good practices and could identify activities that are impacting negatively on our rivers.

Future activity book developments should align closer with the current curriculum water theme, which focuses on water use and the water cycle. It is also suggested that fundamental ecosystem learning be introduced in the curriculum amongst younger learners. Although the above could contribute, an understanding of the social, economical and cultural backgrounds of learners are needed before a meaningful intervention can take place.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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