Environmental Education in China

Environmental Education in China

Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath, Tian Qing and Huang Yu

China’s environmental problems increasingly attract global attention, yet critics often overlook the sizable efforts of the Chinese people and government to change attitudes and behavior, in order to improve environmental outcomes. This much-needed book provides a comprehensive introduction to environmental education in China. After consideration of the environment in Chinese philosophy, the authors focus on application of directives and new guidelines to compulsory, secondary and college education, and also analyze the way in which teachers are trained. They then examine conditioning factors, such as the media and NGOs, as well as the variation of education within China, and attempt to measure the efficacy of environmental education over time.

Chapter 3: Environmental education in China’s primary and middle schools

Gerald A. McBeath, Jenifer Huang McBeath, Tian Qing and Huang Yu

Subjects: environment, asian environment, environmental sociology


As the industrialization process expands internationally and countries become increasingly interdependent economically, resolution of environmental problems emerge as common goals of all humans. In 2009 Chinese President Hu Jintao said, ‘The environmental issue is fundamentally a development issue’, indicating that problems of pollution and other forms of environmental degradation were inextricably linked to China’s economic development course. At the world summit on climate change that Premier Wen Jia-pao attended, speaker after speaker pointed to the need to redress the imbalance and make environmental protection and particularly sustainable development the common task for global society. China has more children to educate, as the world’s most populous nation, than any other. For a large, densely-populated but still developing country, China has made a major commitment to education. Since 1986, it has implemented a nine-year compulsory education system, including six years of primary and three years of middle school education. High school (or senior middle school) education is not yet mandatory, and because of our interest in what is universal for similarly placed individuals, we do not cover it extensively in this chapter. Our focus is on environmental education (EE), which we believe to be one of the important areas of lower school programs. As mentioned, EE refers to the way people in every walk of life think about, judge and select the lifestyles and livelihoods that will reduce or resolve environmental problems and help them effectively adapt to their natural and social environment.

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