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 5: Environmental education in China’s training of teachers

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

Subjects: environment, asian environment, environmental sociology


In China, students do not train to become teachers of environmental education. Instead, they attend school to become elementary teachers and to be able to handle the broad array of subjects exposed to young minds. Or alternatively, they specialize in disciplines such as mathematics or Chinese to prepare for middle or high school teaching responsibilities. In this chapter we begin with general comments on teacher education in China, and then focus on pre- and in-service training – directly related to environmental education. In the nearly two-thirds of a century since 1949 and the foundation of the People’s Republic of China, teacher education in China has been conducted by a range of post-secondary institutions. Since the start of the twenty-first century, four-year colleges and comprehensive universities have increasingly been involved. By 2007, of the 2742 institutions involved in teacher education, some 366 (or 13.3 percent) were colleges or schools for teacher education, and this is a different pattern from that observed in most Western nations. Of the remaining 2376 teacher education programs, most are found in junior colleges or technical schools. Table 5.1 presents the different levels of teacher education. At the bottom rung are special technical secondary schools, above which are the junior colleges; together these comprise 86.7 percent of students preparing for teaching careers (and most are headed to primary and junior middle schools). The next rung has undergraduate colleges and universities. The highest rung is also the most rare: the graduate level (like that found at Beijing Normal University).

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