PERCEPTION AND AWARENESS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AMONG SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN GBOKO METROPOLIS

ABSTRACT
Changes in weather patterns result in devastating natural disasters that affect human beings and the environment. Ironically, climate change is man induced. This study investigated the knowledge, attitude, and practices of 1,103 senior school students on climate change and related issues. The study also determined the influence of students’ age, gender, religion, subject affiliation, and parents’ education levels on students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices. A questionnaire was employed to collect data; descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analyses. Findings indicated that knowledge of climatic change issues is slightly low among students, while their attitude is slightly favorable. They engage in practices that do not entirely predispose the environment to devastating effects, especially flooding. Apart from gender, all other independent variables significantly differentiate students’ knowledge, while seemingly mothers’ educational level influences student practices. Therefore, teachers need to be sensitized on the level of students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices that are related to climate change and be adequately prepared to update students’ knowledge of climatic issues. 

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Problem

Evidence shows that climate change is experienced all over the globe. Climate change is defined as a change in the state of the climate that can be identified and measured by changes in the mean and/or variability of its properties (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, [IPCC], 2007). Climate change can persist over a long time, usually over decades and much longer and leads to extremes of weather conditions such as temperature, wind, rainfall, and humidity (Ayoade, 2003). The consequences of climate change impact the environment, health, agriculture, and transportation. Heat waves and wildfires have made life unbearable for both the human population and wildlife. This situation is particularly precarious in the hot regions of the world.

In Nigeria for instance, climate change is already exerting negative effects on the landscape. Nigerians are experiencing dry spells, high temperatures, off season rains, drought, and flooding. Lake Chad in northeast Nigeria is shrinking. Since 1960, Lake Chad has shrunk by 95% of its size (Awake, 2009). The Sahara desert in the northern part of Nigeria is expanding to all directions at an annual rate of 1-10km (Odjugo & Ikhuoria Isi, 2003; Yaqub, 2007). Subsistence farming, which provides staple foods for the people, is being threatened. Perhaps one of the biggest threats of climate change is hydroelectric power generation. Nigerians experience seasonal reduction in the amount of electricity generated annually due to drought conditions which are getting worse. This reduction has implications on industrial development in Nigeria. Southern Nigeria, however, is experiencing increasing rainfall and getting wetter leading to flooding. Major cities such as Lagos, Gboko, Benin, Warri, PortHarcourt, Calabar, and those along major water ways like Lokoja have experienced flooding after heavy rains causing loss of human lives, livestock, and property. 
Incidences of flooding are not only limited to the south; the northern part of Nigeria has also been hit by floods in states such as Sokoto, Niger, Jigawa, Yobe, Borno, Taraba, and Kebbi. Apart from the serious impact of floods on agriculture and displacement of inhabitants and destruction to property, floods also threaten the health of the populace by exposing them to cholera, diarrhea, malaria, and other waterborne diseases (Bagir, Sobani, Bhamani, & Bhani, 2012; Oyakale, 2013; Watson, Gayer, & Connolly, 2007). This impact is so because according to UNESCO, developing countries (of which Nigeria is one) are disproportionately affected by natural disasters because they lack resources, infrastructures, and disasterpreparedness systems (Watson et al., 2007).

Climate change is known to be caused by two basic factors: (a) bio-geographic factors, which include natural forces, and (b) anthropogenic factors, which are made up of human activities. Human activities which cause climate change either emit large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through bush burning, gas flaring, and industrialization, thereby depleting the ozone layer, or through human activities that reduce the amount of carbons absorbed from the atmosphere (Odjugo, 2001). Prominent among human activities that reduce the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere are deforestation, agricultural practices, and other unhealthy changes in land use. 

Research and scientific evidence continue to grow pointing to the increasing changes in the climate and the attendant devastating effects (Apata, 2012; Odjugo, 2001; Olaniyi, Ojekunle &Amujo, 2013; Yaqub, 2007; Young, 2006). Furthermore, scientists are unequivocal that the primary cause of global warming is human activities (Odjugo & Ikhuoria Isi, 2003; Yaqub, 2007). Also, researchers have reported that level of awareness as well as some sociodemographic variables influences attitudes and practices (Akpan & Falaye, 2009; Falaye, 2006, 2009; Okobia, Bunker, Okonofua, & Osime, 2006). Previous studies indicated that young school students are strongly in support of actions designed to prevent the impact of human induced global warming. Young women are more concerned about their environment than the males. Social background was also found to be important in determining environmental attitudes (Tranter & Skrbis, 2011). Students in tertiary institutions showed interest in issues relating to climate change and are willing to participate in measures that will help mitigate climate change (Bruindres et al., 2007). The teachers who teach these students need to be highly informed too as previous studies indicated; although in some categories, teachers are not aware of climate change (Ekpoh & Ekpoh, 2011; Hegde, Murthy, Shalini, & Sandeep, 2012; Ochieng & Koske, 2013). 

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Therefore, this study assessed the knowledge of, attitudes towards, and practices of students in regard to climate change. Findings from this study will reveal the level of awareness of the students about climate change and its impact, and act as a guide to be used to bridge the gap in students’ knowledge in order to improve their attitudes and modify their behaviours appropriately.


1.3 Research Questions
1.      What is the level of the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of senior school students in regards to climate change?
2.      Are there statistically significant differences in students’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices based on their gender, age, religion, subject affiliation, and parents’ level of education?
3.      Is there any significant difference in the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of students who offer geography and those who did not?

1.4 Objectives
The purpose of this study was to find out what senior secondary students understand about climate change, their attitudes toward issues of climate change, and their practices, it will form a good standing point to build strategies aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change on the people and the environment.

1.6 Significance of the Study
This study was designed to assess the level of Perception And Awareness Of Climate Change among secondary school students and highlight the associated policy implications. The findings of this study will not only aid in understanding students’ knowledge and perception of climate change, but also inform climate change policy planning in Nigeria . Further, most documented research on climate change has concentrated on climate change impacts, adaptation options, and to some extent general public perception. Studies on Perception And Awareness Of Climate Change based on specific populations are scanty. This study, therefore, filled this gap by taking a different approach to assess students’ awareness and perception of climate change. This study will also provide a framework for future research on climate change education as an important tool for awareness creation. Furthermore, limited studies have been conducted on climate change in Gboko Metropolis. To the best of researcher’s knowledge, there has never been a study of this nature undertaken in Gboko Metropolis hence the study filled this perceived gap. 

1.7 Conceptual Framework
This study aimed at assessing student’s level of awareness and perception of climate change as well as examining climate variability in Benue area. The dependent variables for the study were level of Perception And Awareness Of Climate Change, climate change perception and students’ opinion on inclusion of climate change into secondary school curriculum.

Students’ demographics, information access and school environment factors were treated as independent variables influencing students’ level of awareness on climate change. The study was then conceptualised as illustrated in Fig. 1.1. 
The level of Perception and Awareness Of Climate Change and perception among secondary school students is influenced by a number of factors including age, gender, level of education, current subject allocation, seminar attendance, school type and school location. When students are aware of climate change, they are likely to perceive it as a threat and support its inclusion into the curriculum as well. Students’ perception of climate change as a threat is also likely to influence their support for inclusion of climate change knowledge into the curriculum. Given knowledge of students’ level of awareness on climate change, perception of the same and opinion on inclusion of climate change into secondary school curriculum, appropriate policy for enhancing knowledge transfer may be designed to eventually lead to improved level of awareness and positive perception of climate change as a threat among students. Knowledge of climate variability can also inform policy planning to ensure that information on appropriate adaptation options is passed on to the public hence leading to improved awareness and positive perception of climate change as a threat.
The research thus pursued five important objectives: describe climate variability in
Benue area; assess students’ level of Perception And Awareness Of Climate Change; identify factors influencing the students’ level of awareness; determine students’ perception of climate change; and assess students’ opinion on inclusion of climate change knowledge into Nigeria ’s secondary school curriculum. The results of the study were used to recommend appropriate policy interventions that might help in improving students’ level of Perception And Awareness Of Climate Change and perception.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Climate change: measurable shifts in traditional climate patterns of a given place outside the normal range of natural climate variability attributed to anthropogenic factors. Climate variability: short term fluctuations in elements of climate including rainfall, temperature and humidity attributed to both anthropogenic and natural factors.
Climate change education: the type of education targeting perceptions and behaviour change towards sustainability, and which is able to help learners understand and interpret impacts of climate change. 
Perception And Awareness Of Climate Change: students’ common knowledge and understanding of climate change.
Climate change perception: students’ interpretation of climate change as a threat.

Upper secondary: standard four to eight of the 8-4-4 system.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 51 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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