Waste management behaviour : a case study of school children in Mpumalanga, South Africa
Van Niekerk, Ignatius Michael
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This study examined the level of awareness, knowledge and practices of primary and secondary schools students with regard to waste management. Only a limited number of studies were found to evaluate school student’s awareness, knowledge and practice of waste management in South Africa. Literature was reviewed dealing with waste management awareness, knowledge and practices of school students and discussed at the hand of the principles, objectives and targets of the South African Government towards waste and waste management. Using a structured, self-administered questionnaire, a total of 815 students were surveyed from four primary schools and three secondary schools from the Embalenhle and Secunda area Govan Mbeki Municipality, Mpumalanga South Africa. The data were analysed by the use of descriptive statistics including frequency count, percentage, mean and standard deviation. Other analyses employed included two-way frequency tables with Pearson Chisquare test, Phi coefficient, in order to determine the significant relationship between students’ socio-demographic variables. The study showed that the students were obviously aware of concerns with waste and waste management practices in their schools and local environment. It was also apparent the school students had an acute awareness that poor waste management would have a negative impact on the country as well as on them as the individual. This prominent awareness was however not evident in the students’ waste management practices. Good waste management practices activities were minimal at both the school and home environment. Since school students are seen as one of the key agent of change to work towards a more sustainable future, they should be engaged as young as possible and given a quality array of continuous learning to improve their knowledge on environmental problems such as poor waste management. Improved knowledge would contribute to improved environmental awareness and a pro-environmental attitude. The critical recommendations of the study are that the South African Government will have to intensify the research to better understand the needs of children to environmental matters such as waste management.