The role of non-formal education in increasing students’ awareness regarding reduced use, reuse, and recycling

Document Type : علمی - پژوهشی


1 Faculty of Humanities, University of Payame Noor, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Education, University of Payame Noor, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Natural resources are basic resources that play a fundamental role in the economy of any country and are considered among the important tools for sustainable development. Excessive exploitation of resources introduces substantial quantities of waste into the environment. Studies show that unmanaged waste disposal is the main cause of environmental problems. Any effective management programme for controlling waste includes reduced waste production, reuse, and recycling (the ‘3Rs’). In this relation, children have a constructive role to play through participating in such management programmes because they are responsible for protecting the Earth. Education is a vital element for increasing children’s participation in environmental protection. This applied research was conducted to determine the role played by non-formal education in increasing children’s awareness concerning less waste production, reuse, and waste recycling. Materials and methods: This was an applied research study in which the quasi-experimental research method was employed and it was carried out using a pre-test/post-test design involving control and experimental groups. The statistical population consisted of girls and boys in the sixth grade of two elementary schools, and a prepared questionnaire was employed as the tool for measuring the students’ information and awareness concerning the methods for producing less waste, reuse, and recycling before and after the educational programme. Validity of the questionnaire was confirmed by relevant experts and its reliability by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.8. The students were taught topics on resources available in the world, the scarcity of these resources, and the methods for less waste production, reuse, and recycling. The obtained data was analyzed for the independent groups using Levene’s test and T-test. Results and discussion: Results indicated that there is a significant difference in the girls’ mean awareness concerning less use and less waste production before and after the educational programme. Before the educational programme, the level of awareness in the pre-test group was 1.71 but, after training, it became 2.30 in the post-test group. For the boys, their level awareness in this regard also increased, from 2 in the pre-test group to 2.88 in the post-test group. Concerning reuse, the awareness level of the girls increased from 2.63 in the pre-test group to 3.59 in the post-test group and the awareness level of the boys also increased from 2.45 in the pre-test group to 3.45 in the post-test group. The results about waste recycling show that the awareness levels of the girls rose from 0.52 in the pre-test group to 0.79 in the post-test group and, with regard to the boys, results indicated that their awareness level in this regard in the pre-test group was 0.41 while, after the educational programme it became 0.82. Overall, awareness levels of the girls and boys concerning the subjects taught increased after the educational programme. However, the awareness level of the boys in this regard increased more compared to that of the girls. In addition, the awareness levels of all the students (girls and boys) concerning the subject of reuse, increased more compared to that of the other subjects, namely less use, less waste production and waste recycling. Conclusion: According to the results, the researchers suggest that geographical conditions in the various cities of Iran be considered in teaching the 3Rs to students, and information related to this management strategy be provided to students through showing films related to the subject and by using cartoons, posters, competitive games, and through teaching in the natural environment. In fact, these materials must be prepared as an amusement for the children in order to arouse their interest.


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