Eco-Art Education in North America

By Katherine Lee

Table of Contents                                                                                                     

1.  Introduction

2.  Background

3. Case Studies of Eco-Art Education in North America 

4. The Influence of Eco-Artists on Art Education in North America 

5. Conclusion

6. References

7. About the Author

1.  Introduction

This entry aims to shed light on how eco-art education in North America can support students’ ecological literacy and develop awareness in environmental, social, cultural, political, and economic issues through art making. An analysis of the background of eco-art education, including its definition, history, and a variety of theoretical and pedagogical perspectives, will be provided in detail. Next, case studies from elementary and high school demonstrating eco-art’s positive effects on the development of students’ ecological literacy will be discussed. Lastly, the influence of eco-artists on art education in raising awareness about nature, community, and culture, within the context of students’ lives and their contributions to environmental sustainability, will be examined.

2. Background

Eco-art education, also known as environmental art education or ecological art education, can be defined as an integration between art education and environmental education, ‘as a means of developing awareness of and engagement with concepts such as interdependence, biodiversity, conservation, restoration and sustainability’ (Inwood, 2010, p. 2).  Eco-art education provides an original way of promoting ecological literacy and the fundamentals of environmental education through the established origins of environmental education (endowed in the ‘cognitive, positivist approach of science education’), combined with the artistic, affective, and visual methods of art education (Inwood, 2008, p. 58). 

The effect of humanity’s impact on the climate and its consequences such as global warming, pollution, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and over-population constitute threatening and alarming issues that are difficult for the world to ignore. Eco-art education was born and developed precisely as a response to these environmental issues. Dynamic artists such as Hans Haacke and Brian Jungen have been instrumental to the creation of this movement in the last four decades (Inwood, 2013). Literature on the discussions and exploration of the emerging field of eco-art education in North America as a response to environmental degradation can also be traced back to the last four decades (Blandy and Hoffmann, 1993; Gablik, 1991; Neperud, 1973). The greater part of literature in this field is devoted to theoretical perspectives supporting the need for eco-art education and to pedagogical perspectives outlining methods of teaching this field in the classroom. Inwood (2005, 2010) laments the fact that very few applied studies have been carried out in this field and that explorations of educators’ perspectives on the implementation of eco-art education and the establishment of curricula and development at elementary and secondary school levels are also absent. 

Inwood (2005) states that the most convincing arguments about the need for eco-art education that emerged in the last decade are aligned with changes in the area of art education, ‘calling for a higher degree of social relevance for art education programs’ (p. 43). Several scholars have referenced Gablik’s (1991) work on connective aesthetics as having played an important role in the development of eco-art education. Gablik criticizes modernist art as being autonomous, unassociated, and focusing on individual creativity, which caters to a capitalistic and utilitarian society. Gablik (1991) argues that art should instead be focused on discourse, partnership, and interconnection. By linking art to everyday life, creative methods of targeting society’s social and environmental issues could become a vehicle for making positive social changes and raising awareness through the engagement of the public eye (Gablik, 1991). Blandy and Hoffman (1993), two art educators, concur with Gablik’s perspective and suggest that art should be seen as ‘a means to engage individuals in social and political issues in ways that empower them, create alliances and establish community’ (p. 29). From a pedagogical perspective, Hollis (1997) emphasizes the necessity for ‘an art curriculum that deals with ecological issues which can empower students with the understanding that they, as creative individuals, can have an active voice in protecting their environment and changing current devastating ecological trends’ (p. 21). 

The ideas proposed in the 1980’s and 1990’s that were discussed above have encouraged a discussion on suitable methods.Blandy and Hoffman (1993) suggest a bioregional perspective, where a shared appreciation of local identity is redeveloped by means of critical awareness and consideration of the unification of ecological communities, supporting an understanding of ‘the interdependence and interconnectedness of all things’ (p. 28). Garoian (1998) put forth a pedagogy for eco-art education ‘whose curricular metaphors are based on empathy, compassion and caring for the land’, and which ‘recognizes the community-based experiences of students as a complement to that of the teacher’s curriculum’ (p. 260). He states that art students are able to present a variety of environmental outlooks which symbolize their involvement with human and nonhuman societies.   

Alternative eco-art education pedagogies, specifically critical place-based pedagogies in art education, have stemmed from environmental education. Bowers (2001) argues that the lack of significant environmental education can be seen in American schools due to the preference for standardized and high stakes testing, which have led to a disregard for the importance of the ecological and the local. Place-based education is a reaction to systematic pedagogy that ignores events of ecological importance and local human citizenries (Graham, 2007).  Graham (2007) continues that ‘by connecting learning to real-world experiences, students can construct meaningful connections among cultural, political and social issues’ (p. 377).  

However, Gruenewald (2003) points to a problem in place-based education in which the latter emphasizes ecological and rural conditions but ignores components such as politics, disparity, and socio-cultural divergences which also play a role in environmental deterioration. Bowers (2001) claims that equally as troublesome is the disregard of ecological issues in local communities and cultures, which are vital for the natural world to survive in the scheme of critical theory. As a solution to such issues Graham (2007) proposes a critical pedagogy of place that considers the interconnections of ecological, social, cultural, economic, and political problems and provides opportunities for students to think critically and connect art and learning as a reaction to issues in ecology, nature, place and culture within their own lives and their local communities. Graham finds that art education shaped by critical place-based pedagogy questions the traditional forms of art and its limits capturing students in ‘reflective and transformative learning’ (p. 388). Critical place-based pedagogy can stimulate people’s curiosity about their environment, a consciousness about the cultural and social influences which endanger them and encourage them to make a change (Graham, 2007).   

3. Case Studies of Eco-Art Education in North America

Inwood’s case study, Cultivating Artistic Approaches to Environmental Learning: Exploring Eco-Art Education in Elementary Classrooms (2013)analyses four elementary teachers’ experiments with the design and implementation of curriculum and pedagogy of eco-art education across four different schools in Toronto, Canada. The study was conducted based on the belief that eco-art education could help develop students’ ecological literacy and awareness in environmental issues through cross-curricular learning.  Inwood (2013) reports that the team of teachers acknowledged the powerful ability of eco-art education in reinforcing students’ relationships with their own place. The teachers also agreed that the definition of eco-art education which focused on raising awareness of ‘human’s relationships with and/or impact on the earth’ rather than on the materials and methods used was more effective (Inwood, 2013, p. 137). Inwood (2013) highlighted one teacher’s reasoning about eco-art education: art is all art that conveys a respect for the earth, for our natural environment, the interconnectedness of our eco systems, and the importance of ecological literacy... I think the bottom line for me was always respect. And the kids got that very strong message — respect for self, respect for others, respect for community, respect for the world, respect for everything in it (p.137). 

Another case study was conducted with secondary students in an American high school in Virginia by Taylor, an art educator. In her article, It All Started with the Trash: Taking Steps toward Sustainable Art Education (1997),she highlights her attempts in developing students’ ecological literacy through emphasizing the environmental issue of trash, studying a variety of relevant artist studies and focusing discussion and work on community collaboration and stewardship. In one example, students had to work collaboratively in creating earthworks, products of an art movement which emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, often using natural materials from the earth and being site-specific. Students created earthworks as a reaction to the immense amount of trash humans created that were harming the earth. These were then formulated outside the school in which they participated actively in listening, communal thinking, carefully choosing their medium, and then disclosing their knowledge of the genuine problem - themselves. Taylor (1997) writes that during these episodes, students appeared to be more aware of the materials they utilized, as they made sure to use items that would not harm the earth. As artworks were gradually deteriorating in time, students became more conscious of the environmental issues that existed in the community through relevant artist studies, the carefully chosen eco-friendly materials used and the realization of the amount of trash that was produced in the art room itself day to day. One student claimed ‘I never really thought about that much meaning in art before. It makes it more meaningful, you know?’ (Taylor 1997, p. 18). 

4. The Influence of Eco-Artists on Art Education in North America

Since the 1960s, artists from all realms of the arts in North America have not only been producing art to raise environmental awareness but have also been using art as a means of producing innovative and sustainable answers to environmental challenges in societies (Inwood, 2010). Gablik (1991) argues that the importance of individualism in contemporary aesthetics and the disconnect of art from the living creates a disengaged audience. She highlights the significance of artworks for promoting environmental issues and raising awareness and involvement amongst citizens. Graham (2007) builds on Gablik’s argument and states that the work of eco-artists breaks presumptions about our connection with the natural environment and advocates art as a vehicle for ‘interdisciplinary connections and active involvement in environmental restoration’ (p. 380). He states that introducing students to these kinds of artworks and ideas allows them to integrate crucial issues of society, politics and domination within the local context of their lives through the connection of art education. Anderson (2000) asserts that eco-artists view creating art as a community-based execution, which enhances ecological accountability and advocates community restoration.  

5.  Conclusion

Eco-art education as an emerging field of environmental education and art education in North America can support students’ ecological literacy and develop awareness in environmental, social, cultural, political and economic issues through art making. The demand for the interconnection between art and science by educators, critics and curators has been the grounds for the development of several theoretical perspectives on eco-art education in North America, along with the influence of eco-artists, dating back a few decades. Gablik’s (1991) work on connective aesthetics played an important role in the development of eco-art education. Pedagogical perspectives which derived from theoretical standpoints on eco-art education then evolved, specifically critical place-based pedagogies. Critical place-based pedagogies in arts education allow students to develop critical thinking skills and connect art and learning as a reaction to issues in ecology, nature, place and culture, within their own lives and communities (Graham, 2007). 

The two case studies at the elementary and high school level in Canada and the US were presented to show that the implementation of eco-art education can help develop students’ ecological literacy and awareness of social, cultural, political, economic and environmental issues. The influence of eco-artists on art education was also examined and proven to have a positive effect on raising students’ awareness of interdisciplinary issues and understanding art as community-based (Anderson, 2000; Gablik, 1991), and as an example of the ‘interdependence and interconnectedness of all things’ (Blandy and Hoffman, 1993). Most of the literature in the field is focused on theoretical and pedagogical perspectives, and further research needs to be done in understanding the perceptions of educators in implementing eco-art education curricula and pedagogy at elementary and secondary school levels (Inwood 2005, 2010).

6.  References

Anderson, H. (2000). A River Runs through It: Art Education and a River Environment. Art Education,53(6), 13-18.

Blandy, D., & Hoffman, E. (1993). Toward an Art Education of Place. Studies in Art Education,35(1), 22-33. doi:10.2307/1320835

Bowers, C. (2001). Educating for Eco-Justice and Community. Athens/London: University of Georgia Press.

Gablik, S. (1991). The Reenchantment of Art. New York, N.Y.: Thames and Hudson.

Garoian, Charles R. (1998). Art Education and the Aesthetics of Land Use in the Age of Ecology. Studies in Art Education,39(3), 244-61.

Graham, M. A. (2007). Art, Ecology and Art Education: Locating Art Education in a Critical Place-Based Pedagogy. Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research in Art Education,48(4), 375-391.

Gruenewald, D. (2003). The Best of Both Worlds: A Critical Pedagogy of Place. Educational Researcher,32(4), 3-12.

Hollis, C. L. (1997). On Developing an Art and Ecology Curriculum. Art Education,50(6), 21-24.

Inwood, H. (2005). Investigating Educators' Attitudes Toward Eco-Art Education. Canadian Review of Art Education: Research & Issues32(1).

Inwood, H. (2008). Mapping Eco-Art Education. Canadian Review of Art Education: Research and Issues35, 57-73.

Inwood, H. (2010). Shades of Green: Growing Environmentalism through Art Education. Art Education63(6), 33-38.

Inwood, H. J. (2013). Cultivating Artistic Approaches to Environmental Learning: Exploring Eco-Art Education in Elementary Classrooms. International Electronic Journal of Environmental Education3(2), 129-145.

Neperud, R. (1973). Art Education: Towards an Environmental Aesthetic. Art Education,26(3), 7-10.

Neperud, R. W. (1997). Art, Ecology, and Art Education: Practices and Linkages. Art Education,50(6), 14-20.

Taylor, P. G. (1997). It all Started with the Trash: Taking Steps toward Sustainable Art Education. Art education50(2), 13-18.

 7. About the Author

 Katherine Lee

MEd, The University of Hong Kong 



The Swiss Approach to Household Waste Management: An Example of Cohesion in Environmental Policy

 By Kwok Lai Kuen (Hazel)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2.  An Integrated Legislative, Educational, and Financial Approach

3. Going the Extra Mile – Purchase Behavioural Changes 

4. Conclusion

5. References

6. About the Author

1. Introduction

Out of various environmental issues, household waste management provides the greatest opportunity to change individual behavior in favor of the environment: repetition is key in affecting behavior, and individuals generate waste on multiple occasions throughout their day. While the definition of household waste varies by country, it is the main subset of municipal waste, for which there is a globally accepted statistical reference. In 2015, Switzerland was second in the world in terms of economic wealth and consumption power as indicated by its GDP/capita of USD 80,990 (The World Bank, 2016), and it was the second highest municipal waste producer (725kg/capita) in the EU/EFTA (Statistics Explained, 2017) (see figure 1). Despite this alarming waste production, the Swiss waste recovery rate stands at 53%, ranked fifth worldwide, besting the European average of 25% and other well-developed non-EU areas with comparable wealth, including the U.S., Japan, and Australia (OECD, 2015; Skjellaug, 2016).


This entry will focus on Swiss household waste management as a lever for raising personal awareness of how one’s own behavior makes a tangible difference, enhances one’s sensitivity to the environment, and provides a vector for individual compliance with regulations. As this entry shows the Swiss approach to the environment and ecology is comprehensive and strongly supported by regulation and law. More importantly, the Swiss integrate education and financial incentives under environmental policy in order to be more effective. The aim is to make people sensitive to their ability to impact the environment, change behavior, and ultimately enhance individual compliance in doing their parts.

2. An Integrated Legislative, Educational, and Financial Approach 

Environmental regulation in Switzerland consists of 6 federal acts in addition to its Constitution wherein article 74 states: ‘the Confederation shall legislate on the protection of the population and its natural environment against damage or nuisance’ (Wehrenberg, Reich, and Rich, 2016). Specifically, for waste management, the 1995 Environmental Protection Act (EPA) stated a clear priority in waste management: ‘first, waste must be prevented; then wherever possible, it must be recycled and finally, disposal must be ecologically efficient and, whenever possible and appropriate, performed on the national territory’ (Petitpierre, 1999, p. 86).

For decades, the United Nations has stressed that informal and formal education are critical for sustainable development and must be integrated in all disciplines (UN, 1993). The 2012 Swiss Education Report showed that schools are the principal source of information on the environment (Wolter et al., 2014). Zeyer and Roth (2009) stated that for Switzerland, environmental protection is  a common topic of public discourse. This topic gains even more attention in education, where ‘resonances are found not only in the current curricular, but also in teachers’ engagement and in school culture and school infrastructure, where an environmental commitment plays an important role’ (Zeyer and Roth, 2009, p. 980). 

Switzerland puts environmental education in its formal curriculum by integrating Science, Technology, Society and Environment Education in the lower secondary level. Students learn the ways in which science has degraded the environment and how science contributes to preserving it. ‘Acting responsibly in the environment and society’ (Zeyer and Elin, 2013, p.208) is one of the 4 teaching goals of science education. Intensive and comprehensive coverage is identified in 6 aspects (Zeyer and Roth, 2009, p. 965) :

a)     acquire insights into environmental issues;

b)    form personal positions on environmental topics;

c)     become involved in local, national and global environmental problems;

d)    be ready to conserve the natural environment;

e)     consume and live in an environmentally friendly manner;

f)     respect the environment during leisure and sports time. 

Jackson (2016, p. 59) stressed the importance of cultivating teacher awareness of a school’s own ‘hidden curriculum’/active role in ESD (e.g., recycling campaigns), emphasizing how including this component in training promotes buy-in is ‘seen as critical to successful integration,’ and noting that ‘ESD may be less effective’ otherwise. In 2013, a national competence centre was set up to provide support for schools and universities in Teacher Education for ESD (Wolter et al., 2014). Zeyer and Roth (2009, p. 966) reported that beyond curriculum design, authorities also tailor-made science teacher programs for Science, Technology, Society and Environment Education, helping teachers deliver topics of environmental protection to students.

Finally, ‘a majority of experts ascertain that financial incentives do effectively alter environmentally relevant consumer and producer behaviour’ (Joos et al., 1999, p. 422). In Switzerland, household waste management is based on the polluter-pays principle (Skjellaug, 2016). Tax on waste is always an efficient means to arouse attention. Taxpayers realize that the amount of cost represents the elimination of waste, and will change their behaviour. The expected outcome is a reduction in waste production, increased recycling rates and less incineration (Genoud, 2016).

As household trash is unavoidable and the necessary unwanted daily by-product of every household, taxed trash bags are a major financial initiative in household waste management, with widespread and immediate impact on the public. Taxed bags pro-actively encourage every individual to engage in the problem of waste, putting effort in reducing waste at home, in addition to sorting trash before disposal. While the Swiss have made a habit of sorting regular trash like paper, glass, PET bottles, aluminium cans and food waste, introducing taxed trash bags further refined both waste production and waste sorting, given the financial benefits of using fewer bags (Genoud, 2016). 

Since taxed bags were first introduced in Switzerland in 1975, the recycling rate has increased more than three-fold from 16% to 53% in 2015 (Mombelli, 2017; "Le Valais,” 2017).  Enforcement is not easy, however. According to Le Régional, at launch stage in the Vaud Canton in 2013, household waste was inappropriately or illegally disposed of, and offenders were hard to identify (Hess, 2013). Yet officials were determined to enforce policy. Swiss health officials and police would open up non-taxed i.e. illegal bags, looking for utility bills as evidence to connect these bags to individuals (Hess, 2013). The fine for using non-taxed bags is up to CHF 10000 in some districts (Genoud, 2016), a substantial deterrent to non-compliance. This financial initiative together with the protocol of implementation and strict penalty system combine to drive behavioural change in an effective manner.

Figure 2.  Taxed Trash Pack in Switzerland: CHF1.95/piece (Source of picture: the author (2017).

Figure 2. Taxed Trash Pack in Switzerland: CHF1.95/piece (Source of picture: the author (2017).

For most non-daily household waste, disposal is free of charge. Coupled with the taxed bag and awareness of environmental protection, the Swiss are more motivated to further refine sorting of these household wastes. For example, for high-value items like electrical and electronic equipment, the disposal and recycling cost is built in to the selling price at the point of purchase. As such, these items may be disposed of at any retailer;‘problematic’ household waste like unused / expired drugs can be given to pharmacies; used batteries to stores selling batteries, while bulky household waste like furniture is disposed of at designated collection points.

3. Going the Extra Mile – Purchase Behavioural Changes 

Sorting and disposing trash is not the endgame of waste management.  A more proactive and substantial contribution to ecology is to avoid producing trash. Green consumers engage in addressing ecological damage through everyday activities such as consumption (Connolly and Prothero, 2008). A recent study showed that 84% of Swiss minimize waste when buying a product, and there is certainly a link between each purchase decision and one’s awareness of how that purchase impacts the environment (Hainard, Cecchini, and Jacot, 2012). The pulling force created by this eco-sensitive action at the customer level drives retailers and manufacturers to act accordingly. One of biggest supermarket chains in Switzerland, Coop, announced its first environmental initiative in 2001, and in 2015, a sustainability campaign called actions-not-words committed the company and its brands to sustainability, encompassing external as well as internal aspects, involving employees and corporate philosophy (Coop, 2015). An example is the promotion of the Oecoplanbrand, a range of products made from recycled materials, e.g. recycled paper and cleaning products with recycled bottles. Suppliers who demonstrate environmentally production methods will be given priority to carry their products in the shop (Coop, 2015). This accelerated individualization of responsibility encourages the purchase of a vast array of green or eco-friendly products in the belief that such behaviour leads to a healthier planet. A survey revealed that more than 70% of Swiss will pay more for environmentally-friendly products. More than half of them support fair trade, low energy products, and avoid excessive packaging (Zeyer and Roth, 2009)

4. Conclusion

Although the key intention behind the Swiss eco-friendly behaviour in waste management might vary, either out of environmental protection (96%), habit and convenience of nearby collection points (57%), financial considerations like tax (25%), or family influence (20%) (Hainard et al., 2012), there is abundant evidence that waste management is done effectively. 98% of the Swiss have a habit in sorting waste, and 86% consider themselves active in waste separation (Hainard, Cecchini, and Jacot, 2012, p. 42). Also, young people in Switzerland in 2006 scored higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average (OECD, 2009; Wolter et al., 2014). These pro-environmental behaviours and green knowledge do not come by chance. They stem from a well-considered and coordinated three-pronged approach. Well-established policy and regulations encompassing education and financial incentive provide the impetus for individuals to actively contribute to environmentally favourable household waste management.

The traditional environmental education model in the 1980s claimed that a change in attitude is pre-requisite to behavioural change in environmental protection. Eilam and Trop (2014, p. 23), however, pointed out a contrary view in their latest research, that it is in fact easier to influence adult behaviour than attitudes, explaining the success of some intensive behavioural campaigns in environmental protection in a short time. Also, they stated that successes can be reinforced by law, regulation and social pressure. This provides useful insights for countries who have frequent debates over time and resource investments in unlocking people’s ecological mindset as a precursor to pro-environmental behaviour.

To conclude, formal education would be expected to be more effective in influencing changes in behaviour, and together with financial initiatives, effective household waste management could be achieved through collaboration between educational institutions and authorities (Eilam and Trop, 2014). Countries which already have good infrastructure, well-established environmental policy and law, and an education plan in place could take reference to the Swiss integration approach in order to influence their population towards pro-environmental behaviour. 

5. References

Connolly, J., & Prothero, A. (2008). Green Consumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 8(1), 117-145. doi:10.1177/1469540507086422

Coop. (2015).[Brochure]. Retrieved from

Eilam, E., & Trop, T. (2014). Factors Influencing Adults’ Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors and the Role of Environmental Schools in Influencing their Communities. Education and Urban Society, 46(2), 234-263. doi:10.1177/0013124512447100

Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN). (2013). Swiss Environmental Law - A Brief Guide(Publication No. UD-1-72-E). Retrieved from

Genoud, F. (2016). Message du Conseil Municipal au Conseil General concernant le nouveau règlement sur la gestion des déchets et la modification du règlement de protection de l'environnement de 1994 (version 2002) [Message of the Municipal Council to the General Council Concerning the New Regulation on the Management of Waste and the Modification of the Environmental Protection Regulation of 1994 (version 2002)]. Switzerland: Ville de Sierre. Retrieved from

Hainard, F., Cecchini, A., & Jacot, S. (2012). Pratiques de consommation en Suisse romande: enquête auprès des membres de la Fédération Romande des Consommateurs (FRC) [Consumer practices in French-speaking part of Switzerland: Survey of Members of the French Speaking Federation of Consumers (FRC)]. Neuchâtel, Switzerland: Université de Neuchâtel, Institut de Sociologie.

Hess, P. (2013, January 24). Pris la main dans le sac ! [Caught Red Hand !]Le Régional. Retrieved from

Jackson, L. (2016). Education for Sustainable Development: From Environmental Education to Broader Views. In Handbook of Research on Applied Learning Theory and Design in Modern Education(pp. 41-64). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Joos, W., Carabias, V., Winistoerfer, H., & Stuecheli, A. (1999). Social Aspects of Public Waste Management in Switzerland.Waste Management, 19(6), 417-425. doi:10.1016/S0963-9969(99)00087-3

Le Valais romand dévolile son sac poubelle taxé [The Romand Valais Region Reveals its Taxed Trash Bag]. (2017, September 4).Tribune de Genève. Retrieved from

Mombelli, A. (2017, August 9). Recyclage du plastique - Quand les poubelles regorgent de matières premières [Plastics Recycling –Raw Materials Abundantly Found in Trash]. (SWI). Retrieved fromères-premières/43356176

OECD. (2009). PISA 2006 Technical Report. (Report No. 56393 2009). Retrieved from (October 21, 2017).

OECD. (2015). Municipal Waste, Generation and Treatment Data Set -- % Material Recovery (Recycling + Composting), 2014 to 2015 [Data set]. Retrieved from  (October 26, 2017).

Petitpierre, A. (1999). Environmental Law in Switzerland. The Hague, The Netherlands: Kluwer Law International.

Skjellaug, A. (2016, September 6). Comment la Suisse transforme ses déchets en or [How Switzerland Transforms its Trash Into Gold].Le Temps. Retrieved from

Statistics Explained. (2017). Municipal Waste Statistics. Luxembourg: Eurostat Retrieved from

The World Bank. (2016). GDP per Capita (current US$) Data Set, 2015.[Data set]. Retrieved from

United Nations (UN). (1993). Agenda 21: The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio.New York: United Nations.

Wehrenberg, S., Reich, R., & Rich, L. (2016). Environment and Climate Regulation 2017, Switzerland. London: Getting the Deal Through.

Wolter, S. C., Cattaneo, M. A., Denzler, S., Diem, A., Grossenbacher, S., Hof Stefanie, & Chantal, O. (2014). Swiss Education Report 2014. Aarau, Switzerland: Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (ISBN No. 978-3-905684-16-2).

Zeyer, A., & Elin, K. (2013). Environmental Education in a Cultural Context. In R. B. Stevenson, M. Brody, J. Dillon, & A. E. J. Wals (Eds.), International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education(pp. 206-212). New York: Routledge.

Zeyer, A., & Roth, W.-M. (2009). A Mirror of Society: A Discourse Analytic Study of 15- to 16-year-old Swiss Students’ Talk about Environment and Environmental Protection. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4(4), 961-998. doi: 10.1007/s11422-009-9217-2

About the Author

Kwok Lai Kuen (Hazel)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


The Chinese Learning Framework for the Desegregation of Ethnic Minority Students in Hong Kong

 By Lana Miskulin

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background: School Segregation in Hong Kong

3. The ‘Chinese as a Second Language Learning Framework’ as a Solution

3.1. Support Measures for Schools and Teachers

3.2. Support Measures for Students and Parents

4. Future Plans

5. Recommendations

6. Conclusion

7. References

8. Key Terms and Definitions

9. About the Author

1. Introduction

Sustainable Development Goal 10 of the United Nation’s2030 Agenda aims to reduce inequality within and among countries and one of its main targets is to ‘empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status,’ by 2030 (United Nations, 2017). It is, therefore, important for countries to analyze the issues that lead to discrimination in their settings and identify ways toward inclusive development in an appropriate manner. 

Around 6.4% of the Hong Kong population are ethnic minorities (Hong Kong 2011 Population Census Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities, 2013), a large number being persons of school-going age who often face many restrictions in succeeding academically. One such restriction is the inability for non-Chinese speaking students (NCS) to adjust to the Hong Kong education system due to the language barrier which leads to school segregation (Kapai, 2015; Zhou, Cai, and Wang, 2016). 

The Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) has set out to eliminate school segregation by introducing The Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Concerned Learning Frameworkwhich has been designed and implemented in primary and secondary schools as a way to ‘enabl[e] [non-Chinese speaking students to bridge over to mainstream Chinese Language classes’ (EDB, 2017). This entry discusses this framework to desegregate and integrate ethnic minorities in mainstream Hong Kong schools.

2. Background: School Segregation in Hong Kong

The term ‘ethnic minorities’ refers to persons who reported themselves being of non-Chinese ethnicity. Theyare shown in the Population Census sorted by ethnicity and presented in descending order of their sizes in 2011.

According to the Population Census (2011), among the ethnic minorities aged 5 and over, 44.2%  reported that English was the language most commonly spoken at home. English is followed by Cantonese (31.7%), Filipino (3.7%), Indonesian (3.6%), Japanese (2.2%), Putonghua (1.0%), and other Chinese dialects (other than Cantonese and Putonghua) (0.3%).

Based on these numbers, it is clear that more than half of the ethnic minority population did not speak Chinese (Cantonese) at home. This became a particular problem after the handover of Hong Kong to China when many schools in Hong Kong switched the medium of instruction from English to Chinese (Kapai, 2015; Law and Lee, 2012). After, NCS children of primary and secondary school age would often get placed in ‘designated schools’ that were set by the Education Bureau to focus on teaching minority students (Kapai, 2015; Law and Lee, 2012). Parents with better financial status would enroll their children into private schools with English as the medium of instruction or international schools which often do not prepare students for a future in Hong Kong due to their international curriculum (Groves and O'Connor, 2017). This led to school segregation, with Hong Kong Chinese and ethnic minorities studying separately in different schools and within different curricula.

The segregation of schooling of minorities from the majority has had a strong impact on development. The gap has led to discrimination and prejudice against minorities and deprived the Hong Kong community of the opportunity to function as a whole. For sustainable and inclusive development in Hong Kong changes needed to be made in education of ethnic minorities. The best way of achieving this has been by eliminating segregation, which would allow NCS students to be integrated into the local community and would provide local students with the opportunity to learn about cultures other than their own for understanding and peace between the communities.

The Hong Kong government has made progress towards school desegregation and integration of NCS students into public schools. A notable change was the removal of the label ‘designated schools’ in the school year 2013/2014 (Kapai, 2015). However, the schools that were ‘designated schools’ still had ethnic minority students as the majority of their school population. The removal of the label was a good start towards desegregation, although it also showed the need for further action towards integration. NCS students’ low level of Chinese  was identified as the biggest obstacle for their enrolment into public schools (EDB, 2008). To respond to this problem, in 2014/2015 the Hong Kong government implemented the ‘Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Concerned Learning Framework.’

3. The ‘Chinese as a Second LanguageLearning Framework’ as a Solution

The framework aims to integrate NCS students into the mainstream education by creating a curriculum with Chinese as second language learning. This allows NCS students to participate in the same classes with Chinese-speaking students and learn to become independent in local mainstream classes. As such, this framework has been a step forward for Hong Kong and beneficial for ethnic minority students, their parents, and teachers.

Gao’s study on the identity of Chinese language teachers’ teaching South Asian students in Hong Kong shows mostly positive findings , with language teachers feeling successful when teaching NCS students and excited to learn about their students’ culture, religion, and customs (Gao, 2012). Ku, Chan, and Sandhu’s research report (as cited in Kapai, 2015) gives data from the students’ perspectives on their Chinese language teachers. The responses are generally positive on the matter of schools respecting their religious and cultural practices, although there are still issues with teachers’ attitudes towards ethnic minority students. As Figure 1 shows, for example, 30% of ethnic minority students feel that their teachers dislike teaching them and 31% feel that the teachers care more about their Chinese students.

Figure 1.  Students’ perception of teachers’ attitudes towards them (Ku, Chan & Sandhu, 2005, extracted from Kapai, 2015).

Figure 1. Students’ perception of teachers’ attitudes towards them (Ku, Chan & Sandhu, 2005, extracted from Kapai, 2015).

Nevertheless, these findings show that good foundations for the framework do exist; however, there is a need for careful monitoring of progress and for more focused teacher and student education about diversity and multiculturalism.

3.1. Support Measures for Schools and Teachers 

With the framework, the government aims to further education and training for Chinese teachers in methods of teaching Chinese as a second language. This training is provided through seminars and workshops for professional development and adjustment of the existing curricula to the NCS students’ needs (EDB, 2014, 2016). Schools are not allowed to adopt a Chinese Language curriculum with pre-set simpler contents and lower standards for their NCS students, which may be slightly over-restrictive and make the Chinese language learning less accessible to them (Kapai, 2015). 

Each school is eligible for financial support as long as it admits 10 or more NCS students or 6 or more for special schools that do not offer the ordinary school curriculum. The funding provided is to be used strictly for the NCS students and their integration into the local system. However, there have been reports of lack of an efficient system to monitor the use of funds which is affecting the equality of opportunities provided to ethnic minorities (Kapai, 2015).

3.2. Support Measures for Students and Parents

The framework aims to prepare NCS students to sit the examinations to attain the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) in the Chinese Language. This diploma enables them to continue their studies and professional development. An alternative is the Applied Chinese Learning course, offered in senior levels of secondary education, which aims to provide NCS students with practical Chinese for daily life and employment and is recognized as “Attained” and “Attained with Distinction” in the HKDSE. 

As for primary school levels, the NCS students can join the 4-week Summer Measures Bridging Program introduced in summer 2007. It has since been extended from enrolling incoming NCS Primary 1 entrants to also accepting NCS students proceeding to Primary 2, 3, and 4. It aims to help NCS students adapt to the new learning environment and expose them to using Chinese as the medium of instruction within a real classroom setting. Since 2013, parents of NCS students have been able to accompany their children which is a necessary action as parents of NCS students lack knowledge about the mainstream education system (Kapai, 2015; Zhou, Cai, and Wang, 2016)

4. Future Plans

Future plans for the framework include expanding it to kindergarten. So far, the enrolment in most kindergartens has been through interviews conducted with the child and the parents in Chinese. While student admission in kindergartens continues to be the same, the EDB has provided bilingual templates of the application forms and relevant information in Chinese and English. Also, the Free Quality Kindergarten Education Policy, which gives grants comparable to the salary of one teacher to kindergartens admitting eight or more NCS students, has been implemented since 2017/2018.

There are also plans for secondary level NCS students. For those taking the HKDSE (Chinese Language), the University Grants Committee-funded institutions may consider applications case by case to provide flexibility in the Chinese language requirement for NCS students that could not reach Level 3 or above. This would enable NCS students that were not able to master the language (e.g., late-comers) to still have an opportunity to continue their education and professional development.

5. Recommendations

The Learning Framework is a well-thought and organized set of guidelines towards a sustainable education. There are many strengths that this framework has; however, there are also limitations that need to be taken into consideration when re-evaluating the framework. 

One limitation most worth mentioning is related to teacher education. Although teachers are receiving enough support to familiarize themselves with the concept of the framework, they lack knowledge and techniques to teach in a multicultural classroom. Teachers need to learn about the NCS students’ needs so that they can be a role model for the local students in terms of respect and interaction.

Currently, the framework focuses largely on primary and secondary education. The EDB has also made multiple attempts of including NCS students into local kindergartens; however, there has not been much success. This could be due to the fact that many kindergartens do not have teachers trained to teach Chinese as a second language. Therefore, teacher education at kindergarten level is needed as well. There is also an urgent need for compulsory and, possibly, free education from kindergarten level (Kapai, 2015).

As for parents of NCS students, informing them about the Hong Kong education system is also desired. Providing parents with more information and educating them about the framework could decrease the number of parents choosing designated schools for their children in cases when they are uninformed about other opportunities. Therefore, they need to be educated about the system, the idea, the benefits, and the current limitations. 

6. Conclusion

Hong Kong is growing as a multicultural and international city and has, acknowledged the need to integrate ethnic minority population into the local education system. The government has made the first step towards desegregation by removing the label ‘designated schools’ with the attempt to give ethnic minority students an equal opportunity in choosing schools. This movement itself was a sign of progress; however, it was not nearly enough to accomplish the goal of desegregation.

With this in mind, the government created the ‘Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Concerned Learning Framework’. This framework allows NCS students to participate in the same classes as Chinese-speaking students and to, eventually, become independent in local mainstream classes. Participating schools are provided with support measures such as financial support and teacher training in teaching Chinese as a second language, whereas the NCS students are prepared to attend the HKDSE examination in the Chinese language. 

In the future, the government plans to expand the framework to kindergarten education to encourage NCS parents to expose their children to the Chinese language from earlier ages. Future plans also include providing flexibility to secondary level NCS students in the HKDSE Chinese language requirement, which would allow late-comers to continue their education. The framework provides grounds for equal opportunities in education and for cultural exchange. It aims to reduce inequality and it promotes social inclusion of all, regardless of race, ethnicity, origin or religion. This is, indeed, a step forward for Hong Kong on its path of as a multicultural city.

7. References

Education Bureau (EDB).(2008). Developing a Supplementary Guide to the Chinese        Language Curriculum for Non-Chinese Speaking Students. Hong Kong.

Education Bureau (EDB).(2014).Enhanced Chinese Learning and Teaching for Non-Chinese     Speaking Students. Hong Kong. 

Education Bureau (EDB).(2016). Existing and planned measures on the promotion of      equality for ethnic minorities.Hong Kong.

Education Bureau (EDB).(2017). Education services for non-Chinese speaking (NCS)     students. Hong Kong.

Gao, F. (2012). Teacher Identity, Teaching Vision, and Chinese Language Education for South    Asian Students in Hong Kong. Teachers and Teaching18(1), 89-99. doi: 10.1080/13540602.2011.622558

Groves, J., & O'Connor, P. (2017). Negotiating Global Citizenship, Protecting Privilege: Western Expatriates Choosing Local Schools in Hong Kong. British Journal of         Sociology of Education, 1-15. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2017.1351866

Home Affairs Department (HAD)(2013). Hong Kong 2011 Population Census Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities. Hong Kong.

Kapai, P. (2015). Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 1997 – 2014. Hong Kong:      Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong.

Law, K., & Lee, K. (2012). The Myth of Multiculturalism in ‘Asia's World City’: Incomprehensive Policies for Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong. Journal of Asian          Public Policy5(1), 117-134. doi: 10.1080/17516234.2012.662353

United Nations(UN). (2017). Sustainable Development Goals.Retrieved from:

Zhou, Y., Cai, T., & Wang, D. (2016). Social Segregation in Hong Kong’s Schools: 2000–           2012. Chinese Sociological Review48(3), 248-270. doi: 10.1080/21620555.2016.1166340

8. Key Terms and Definitions

NCS students: ethnic minorities under the definition of non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students of primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong.

‘Chinese language’: refers to ‘Cantonese dialect’, the official language of Hong Kong.

‘Public schools’: represents all government schools, aided schools (including special schools), caput schools and Direct Subsidy Scheme schools following the local curriculum.

About the Author

Lana Miskulin

MEd, University of Hong Kong


The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Development of Education in Greater Pibor, South Sudan

By KWAJE, Sebit Nicholas Phillip

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction 

2.    The Murle People 

3.    The Relationship between Culture and Formal Education 

4.    Cultural Factors that Shape Formal Education

5.    Recommendations

6.    Conclusion 

7.    References 

8. About the Author

1.    Introduction

Culture and education are interlinked. This entry examines the cultural factors that shape the development of formal education systems for the Murle minority group of Greater Pibor in South Sudan. It also identifies non-cultural factors that have affected the development of formal education systems and analyzes the relationship between them. The entry is structured in four sections. First, it introduces the context of the Greater Pibor and the Murle minority group in South Sudan. It also provides definitions of culture and education and discusses their relationship. The next section identifies specific cultural aspects of Murle society and analyzes their impact on formal education. After that, the entry presents recommendations for the work of scholars and educational stakeholders such as government officers, and concludes with implications for development of formal education. This entry intends to help teachers and education specialistsunderstand non-school factors that shape the development of formal education systems, embedded in the context of Greater Pibor society. 

2.    The Murle People

The Republic of South Sudan is the world’s newest nation; it gained its independence in 2011 after claiming about 98.8% vote in a referendum in favor of political autonomy from Sudan (Christopher, 2011; Curless, 2011). The Murle are the Eastern Nilotic people who are believed to have migrated from Ethiopia and settled in the eastern part of what is now South Sudan (Arensen, 1964). Sudan’s 5thPopulation and Housing Census of 2008 estimated the population of Greater Pibor as 214,676 people (SSCCSE, 2008). They are one of 64 ethnic groups in South Sudan, originally inhabitingthe Greater Pibor Administrative Area (Turton, 1979). According to the National Baseline Household Survey conducted in 2009, about 144 out of 214,676 Murle were literate, a proportion lower than any other group in South Sudan. Similarly, Greater Pibor in Jonglei region has the least primary school Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 5,472, which is just 15% (see Figure 1). This situation raisesconcernas to the underlying factors of such low literacy and enrolment numbers. The cultural context of Murle societycan be one possible factor. 

Figure 1.  Gross Enrolment Ratio for Counties in Jonglei Region(Southern Sudan Centre for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCCSE), 2009, p. 69).

Figure 1. Gross Enrolment Ratio for Counties in Jonglei Region(Southern Sudan Centre for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCCSE), 2009, p. 69).

Formal education, like other forms of development, can only take roots in a society that supports its values, norms, beliefs and structures. Rigid cultural practices and beliefs, such as those of the Murle people as discussed below, make investment in formal education slow. 

3.    The Relationship between Culture and Formal Education

Culture and education are interdependent as society’s educational systems are shaped by its cultural beliefs and values and, in a similar manner, cultural patterns are guided by its educational systems. Many comparative education researchers focus on school-based inputs to analyze educational development across countries. Yet, culture is one of the most influential non-school factors that influences learning. To demonstrate this connection, we first look at the definitions and meanings of culture and education. 

Tylor defined culture as a ‘complex whole which includes’ ‘knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits, acquired by humans as members of society’ (as cited by Thomas, 2007). The current globalization of education is arguedby some countries and minority groups to potentially have a negative impact on their education through its political, economic, and cultural colonization of education (Bakhtiari and Shajar, 2006). 

Formal education is defined by Claudio (as cited in Dib, 1988) as a systematic, organized education model, which can be structured and administered according to a given set of laws and norms, presenting a rather rigid curriculum as regards objectives, content, and methodology (p. 300-315). In most cases, local language is used as the medium of instruction in formal schools.   The relationship between culture and formal education is that they both are structured in a way guided by a set of laws and norms that must be compatible to support oneanother’s development. 

4.    Cultural Factors that Shape Formal Education

In the Greater Pibor area, livestock is the main source of livelihood and has increasingly made its way to urban markets that have expanded beyond local economies (Leff andLeBrun, 2014). The Murle in Piborengage primarily in pastoralism, moving with their cattle between more established settlements and more temporary ones, depending on the season (Maxwellet al., 2014). Regular migrations remain an important aspect in this traditional livelihood production system, especially during the dry season when cattle are taken to distant places for months, in search of pastures and water. In most instances such movements attract conflicts over grazing lands, water sources, and cattle raiding, which are deadly, and creates a circle of violence with neighboring communities. Such practices (livestock keeping) are demanding and create mobile communities which hardly settle. It further deprives nomadic children of the opportunity for formal schooling. These children and youth devote most of their time looking after cattle instead of being in school. In addition to constant migration, the establishment of permanent schools becomes difficult, because they are likely to be left unused when seasonschange. School attendance in pastoralist communities remains low, as entire generations are being raised without education (Beswick, 2001). This cultural belief of sticking to traditional sources of livelihood creates a gap that makes it a challenge to keep pace with formal schooling system in the Greater Pibor area.

Child abduction (kidnapping children and women) is another unique cultural practice by the Murle people (Leff andLeBrun, 2014). Abductee(s) are usually adopted to become members of abductors’ community. The article titled 14 Abducted Children Rescued in Jonglei State’(Thon, 2009) discusses the abduction and reunification of 14 children from Jonglei and the detention of the abductors in Pibor town awaiting trial. This practice of child abduction is carried out by Murle youth, with their neighboring communities the Jie, Kachipo, Anyuak, Dinka, Nuer, and Toposa, and now has expanded to other countries like Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. Recent trends of internal child abductions among the Murle created mistrust among members of the community. Some of them now do not allow their children to go to school even if schools exist within their community. In some areas when a raid or abduction happens, parents or community leaders ask the school to suspend learning activities for a certain period, paralyzing the routine operation of classes. Sometimes youth organize parties to chase after abductors to recover their children or cattle. Such activities often end up in violent clashes due to revenge. This culture of abduction has resulted in a vicious cycle of violence that has led to the slow development of formal education in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (Yoshida, 2013).  

The Murle society does not have a formal hierarchical leadership structure, but is broken into generational age-sets, with each set comprising of a ten-year span (Leff andLeBrun, 2014). As the members build a family and acquire livestock, their roles within the age-set may change. A new age-set forms about once in every ten years, and they rise and fall in prominence depending on its strength and their abilities to raid. These generations have internal governing systems and symbols of identity (Leff andLeBrun, 2014). For example, the type and pigment of beads, body markings and hair styles of each group clearly describe the generation style. To-date, there are up to nine different generations, with the older called ‘Moden’ and the younger ‘Lango’, although there is an emerging younger generation called the ‘Tangot’. Power transition from one age-set to another is never peaceful. The younger generation has to fight their way through to take responsibility from their predecessors. Such fierce and fatal generation fights have resulted in fractures, injuries, and deaths. Communal bonds make it difficult to break the vicious cycle of illiteracy, because one member cannot be in school if his or her age-set is involved in a cultural group activity, hence derailing the participation of the Murle in formal school settings. 

Another aspect of the Murle culture is the value attached to dowry or bride price paid in the form of cattle during traditional marriages. In many parts of South Sudan, girls are often regarded as an opportunity to increase family wealth, as marriage brings in resources such as cattle or money. About 40% of girls between ages 15-19 are married, with some as young as 12 years old (Girls Education Strategy South Sudan, 2012). With pastoralist tribes typically partaking in the bride price practice, girls also serve as a form of family wealth, in which the sooner the girl marries, the sooner the family acquires her monetary ‘value’ in cattle (Beswick, 2001). This matters because formal education is governed by a set of cultural rules and laws that guide its operation in communities. These cultural lags of discrimination against one gender create inequalities as married girls cannot participate in formal education. 

5.    Recommendations

The South Sudan General Education Act 2012 set forth a framework for development of policies and programs that promote accelerated learning especially for communities affected by the civil war (1955 – 2005). This gave rise to the development of the Alternative Education System policy in 2014, with six major strategies to condense 8 years of primary school to 4 years for overgrown children (GESP, 2012). Based on the above, I suggest the following remedies to the situation in the Greater Pibor area described above.

First, effective implementation of the Alternative Education System policy and the Girls’ Education South Sudan program by the government and development partners would curb the widening illiteracy gap among the Murle people. The Alternative Education System is an accelerated program designed to cover educational lag of communities affected by conflicts. This program has 6 main strategies aimed at improving enrolment through establishment of accelerated learning programs, community girls’ schools, pastoralist education programs, basic adult literacy programs, and intensive English courses for teachers. Second, civic education is vital in the communities to sensitize parents so that they can see the importance of formal education and allow their children to participate in learning. This does not only change the perceptions of education by parents, but enables them to see the value of learning for their children’s future. Community engagements through meetings, forums, and dialogues can mobilize the Murle for development of sustainable and lifelong learning programs.

Third, there should be investment in construction of infrastructure, especially schools, teachers training colleges, and vocational institutions. The Government of South Sudan with development partners should invest in infrastructural projects, especially constructions of roads for the Murle people to access business and learning opportunities within South Sudan and beyond. Fourth, Murle livelihood programs should be diversified to include mixed farming methods. The government should encourage market-oriented production to improve local economies, and encourage stable settlements within farms and reduce seasonal migrations.

6.    Conclusion

Cultures are not static, but change with time depending on the level of interaction of a specific community with the outside world. Education in this case plays an important role in shaping the attitudes and perceptions of the Murle people to view their community using a global lens and learning from other communities. Specific aspects of their culture, such as the informal leadership structure, child abduction, traditional cattle grazing,and the value attached to bride price may not be the only reasons that account for the low development of formal education in the Greater Pibor Area, but they contribute greatly to the lag. Education stakeholders and government officials need to further investigate educational imbalances and make recommendations and interventions that aim at addressing the ‘cultural lags’ delaying the implementation of education for sustainable development for the Murle people.

7.    References

Arensen, J. (1964). The History of Murle Migration: Research Paper on Cultural Anthropology (D.Phil.), Oxford University Professor of Anthropology, Houghton College.

Bakhtiari, S. & Shajar, H. (2006). Globalization and Education Challenges and Opportunities. International Business and Economics Research Journal5(2), 95-101.

Beswick, S. (2001). "We are Bought Like Clothes": The War Over Polygyny and Levirate     Marriage in South Sudan. Northeast African Studies, 8(2), 35-61.

Christopher, A. J. (2011). Secession and South Sudan: An African Precedent for the Future? South African Geographical Journal Suid-Afrikaanse Geografiese Tydskrif, 93(2), 125-132.

Curless, G. (2011). Sudan’s 2011 Referendum on Southern Secession. Ethnopolitics, 7, 1-25. 

Dib, C. Z. (1988). Formal, Nonformal and Informal Education: Concepts/applicability.Paper presented at the AIP conference proceedings.

Girls Education Strategy South Sudan (2012). Ministry of Education and Instructions, Directorate of planning.Government of South Sudan.

Leff, J. & LeBrun, E. (2014). Following the Thread: Arms and Ammunition Tracing in Sudan and South Sudan. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.

Maxwell, D., Santschi, M., Gordon, R., Dau, P., & Moro, L. (2014). Researching Livelihoods and Services Affectedby Conflict.Overseas Development Institute.

Southern Sudan Center for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCCSE). (2008). Sudan 5thPopulation and Housing Census Results, 2008.Government of Southern Sudan.

Thomas, J. (2007). The Trouble with Material Culture. Journal of Iberian Archaeology, 9(10), 11-23. 

Thon, P.A (2009); 14 Abducted Children Rescued in Jonglei State.Sudan Tribune Plural News and Views on Sudan(September 2012, Bor).

Turton, D. (1979). A Journey Made Them: Territorial Segmentation and Ethnic Identity among the Mursi. Segmentary Lineage Systems Reconsidered. Queen’s University Papers in Social Anthropology, 4, 119-143. 

Yoshida, Y. (2013). Interethnic Conflict in Jonglei State, South Sudan: Emerging Ethnic Hatred between the Lou Nuer and the Murle. African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 13(2), 39-57. 

About the Author

KWAJE, Sebit Nicholas Phillip

MEd, The University of Hong Kong.


Academic Counselling in Private International Schools in China

By Wang Xiaokun (Alex)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background 

3. Role of Educational Counsellors

4. Establishing of a Multi-Perspective Approachto School Counselling

5. Potential Challenges

6. Conclusion

7. References

8. About the Author

1. Introduction

Fornearly a decade the need for Chinese students to study overseas facilitated the establishments of a new type of international schools in mainland China. Those schools aim to recruit Chinese local students at the upper-secondary level and became more popular by providing English-medium curricula which makes students eligible to pursue their undergraduate studies abroad after gaining globally recognised qualifications such as GCE A-levels, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and others. Parents therefore choose to send their children to study international curricula, and the development of this type of schools reflects the upwelling demand of the society for a more diversified secondary schooling system (Wang, 2012).

This entry describes this new type of international schools and their importance for providing Chinese families with alternative choices for education. It then examines the significance of setting up school academic counselling systems in such schools. In this context, school academic counselling focuses on guiding students throughout their study at schools andpreparing them to apply to overseas universities. Having an effective school academic counselling system can enable private fee-charging schools to survive in a competitive market and help students to be more competent in pursuing future goals. The entry then explorespotential challenges for setting up counselling systems in new schools by discussing the current situation in Chinese international education. 

2. Background

Since 2010, the number of Chinese students going to study abroad has increased significantly. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Education of the Peoples’ Republic of China (2017), the number reached 544,500 in 2016 and, compared with 144,900 in 2012, it has increased over three times. Of the total number of students, 30% are studying undergraduate courses and 35% are studying at the postgraduate level. 70% of students are studying in countries where the instruction language is English. Over 90% of the students are supported by private finance.

Students who pursue overseas postgraduate degrees could gain admissions after they graduate from universities in China. The university diploma issued by Chinese Tertiary Education institutions is recognised and accepted as admission requirements, and students will not experience many obstacles in the process of admissions. However, for students who receive a Senior High School Diploma from Chinese local high schools or take Chinese University Entrance Examinations (‘Gao Kao’), their qualifications cannot always meet direct entry requirements for undergraduate admission at top universities overseas. The Chinese Senior High School Diploma is not listed as an accepted qualification for admission to Imperial College London (Imperial College London, 2017), and University of Oxford states that the qualification is not sufficient to make candidate competitive in the application process (University of Oxford, 2017). If they wish to gain entry to study an undergraduate degree abroad, students have to take different routes to meet the university entry requirements. 

One of the routes is to attend schools that run international curricula, especially to cover the period of Grades 9 to 12. However, Chinese local mainstream public schools are not allowed to provide international courses without government permission, and traditional international schools only admit students who hold non-Chinese passports. The new type of international schools - institutions running international curricula - are mostly privately owned or in limited cooperation with local mainstream public schools. This type of institution is often regarded as a new international school (‘Guoji Xuexiao’ or ‘Guoji Banin Chinese) by Chinese parents and students. The student body of these institutions are mostly Chinese nationals. There is no way for students to gain entry to Chinese universities if they are not studying under Chinese High School curriculum. When students are enrolled to study under international curriculum for Grades 9 to 12, the expectation for them is to successfully gain overseas university admission (IEdu China, 2017). 

Newly emerged schools are positioned in the fee-charging market place and, therefore, their first priority is to attract more students so that they could develop sustainably. The school recruitment work is facing severe competition in the educational market, and the attractiveness of the school is largely dependent on university admission statistics of their students. However, many schools focus on students’ academic performance and set school academic counselling as a low priority. The imbalanced strategic approach provides insufficient support for students to understand the curriculum and establish their educational goals. Parents having only little information unquestionably follow profit-oriented external educational consulting agents who claim to provide guaranteed university admissions abroad. The imbalanced school setup, the uninformed students, the anxious parents, and the insatiate service market form a vicious cycle to impede the development of school and students. 

3. Role of Educational Counsellors

School educational counsellors should mainly focus on guiding students to achieve their academic goals, including the major goal of gaining overseas university entry. Setting up good practice for school educational counselling will then have a positive impact. First, 

most of the students studying in these international schools previously studied at Chinese local lower secondary schools. In Chinese secondary schools, the role of school educational counsellors is ambiguous, and few schools have designated education counsellors to provide information or consultations for student future planning. This is due to the linear way of educational progress within the Chinese schooling system. As students canadvance into higher levels by taking entranceexams accepted foruniversity admission, most of them do not need much information about their future study. They canalways get admitted to some tertiary institution as long as they perform well in national college entry exams(Gaokao). 

When students shift to study in an international school, they unavoidably face the challenge of applying to overseas universitieswith different admission requirements. Although admission requirements vary from country to country or even differ from one university to another, students could be helpedinthe application process if theirpreparation starts earlier with the assistance of educational counsellors. Good university admission results will in turn be beneficial to the private schools for marketing and student/teacher recruiting. This isoneessential role of school educational counsellor.  

Second, the schools claimto be international because they provide international qualification courses and students graduate to attend overseas universities. International schools often make certain curricula adjustments to fit their needs, which are often affected by the admission information from universities (Teng, Hu, and Li, 2016). At this point, school counsellors will act as an information crux to help collect and share information and in this way help schools and students understand the significance of that information. Take English language requirements as an example: Chinese students need to pass English language tests in order to study at universities in the UK. Before 2013, many UK universities could consider the qualification of IGCSE English as a Second Language as a valid proof for English ability, such as University of Oxford, Imperial College London, and University of Warwick. Some international schools in China considered this qualification as a compulsory part of their course design if they provide IGCSE qualifications. However, when the UK Boarder Agency (UKBA) was replaced by UK Visa and Immigration in 2013, the student visa policy was subsequently changed to a new point-based system (GOVUK, 2013). Many universities no longer accepted IGCSE English as a valid test for visa application (Imperial, 2017b; Oxford, 2017a; Warwick, 2017). International school counsellors can stay up-to-date with such information to inform school administration about any changes to make alternative course design in time. 

Third, school educational counsellors could act as a nexus between school and family. Counsellors are able to follow the academic progress of students and to communicate with their family about their expectations. Many students and parents feel anxious because they are unaware of how student progress matches their expectations (Sina Education, 2016). For newly established schools, the trusting relationship between parents and school is often problematic. Credibility of private schools could be gained if parents truly believed that the educational service is worth paying for. 

4. Establishinga Multi-Perspective Approach toSchool Counselling

The primary goal of schools should be empowering students through education. School educational counselling could perfoma key role in the balanced long-term development of students. Imbuing students with knowledge could help them attain certain academic achievements short-term, which fits the short-term goals of both school and students. But empowering students with the will and ability to learn in future has a far-reaching significance. In the context of new international schools in China school educational counselling could take a two-stage approach to foster the sustainable growth of students. 

Stage one is the phase of guiding students with knowledge, where students are taught and guided by counsellors to understand current curricula, establish achievable goals, and become familiarised with overseas educational systems. The significance of this training is not only to provide information or knowledge, but also to establish the initial trust and bond between counsellors and students. Stage two is the phase of empowerment, where a counsellor no longer teaches students detailed skills. Instead of giving them static written-down information, counsellor’ involvement should be minimised by gradually encouraging students to explore information by themselves. The external authority from schools should diminish and be replaced by students’ self-driven learning and exploration. In this way, students could be able to face future challenges with a mature mindset. 

5. Potential Challenges

The significance of establishing a counselling system in newly established international schools have been discussed above. Several aspects, however, will challenge the implementation of such practices. 

From the perspective of schools, it is more sustainable to establish a stable counselling system than to simply guide students through the routine university application process. However, the system cannot be built in one day, it needs constant adjustments and perfections overtime. Cost is an issue for schools that are reluctant to implement a whole school counseling approach. Many prefer to employaminimum number of school counsellors to cover the university application guidance process for their Grade 12 students. In the long run, fostering abilities ofstudents from lower grades will be more beneficial. 

As most counsellors are initially subject teachers, training will be required. Teachers often consider their current position/workload before shifting to an unfamiliar role. For many schools, teaching workload ranges from 14–20 periods per week. In China, there is no formal/official way for counsellors to be trained to fit the job description ofan international school counsellor. In most cases, schools need to establish a system to train their school teachers to be school counsellors.

Guidance provided by school counsellors is alsochallenged by off-the-shelf educational service providers. The rapid expansion of the international educational service sector has attracted more profit-oriented organisations and individuals. A unique ecology is forming and various educational services label themselves as key-holders to students’ dreams. They use previous successful cases to make a sale of their commercialised counselling packages such as expensive English coaching courses, extra-curricular activities, and application essays editing(JJL, 2017).

6. Conclusion

Schools should prioritise the practices of systematic school counselling so that students receive comprehensive and extensive training for overseas university application while they study at school. This will not only benefit students in attaining their educational goals, but also various abilities could be developed to enable students to face future challenges. It also helps private schools to formalise the processes to train teachers professionally, and more importantly, to serve students better. 

7. References

Guoji xuexiao jiazhang: gai ruhe yingdui zhongguoshi jiazhang jiaolv [Parents Anxieties vs International Schools]. (2016). Sina Education. Retrieved from

JJL Overseas Education. (2017). Yingguo G5 LSE chenggong anli [UK G5 London School of Economics and Political Sciences Successful Cases]. Retrieved from

IEdu China. (2017). Guo Nei Xue Ji Dui Guo Ji Xue Xiao Xue Sheng You He Ying Xiang[How does the education registration status affect students from international schools].   Retrieved from

Imperial College London (2017a). Academic Requirements for Undergraduate Study.   Retrieved from

Imperial College London (2017b). English Language Requirements.   Retrieved from

Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. (2017).Yu bacheng liuxue renyuan xuecheng hou xuanze huiguo fazhan, 2016nian chuguo liuxue renyuan zongshu chao 54wan [Over 540 Thousands Chinese Students are studying overseas in 2016]. Retrieved from

Teng, J., Hu, J., & Li, M. (2016). International Curriculum in China: Status, Reflection and Value. Comparative Education Studies (12), 54-60. 

GOVUK. (2013). Guidance on Application for UK Visa as Tier 4 Student. UK: UK Visas and Immigration. Retrieved from

University of Oxford. (2017a). English Language Requirements.   Retrieved from

University of Oxford. (2017b). International Qualifications for Admission Requirements.   Retrieved from

University of Warwick. (2017). English Language Requirements.   Retrieved from

Wang, F. (2012). The Review of the Development of High School International Course in Shanghai. Journal of Schooling Studies, 9(4), 66-71. 

About the Author

Wang Xiaokun (Alex)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong

Disaster Risk Reduction Education: An Affective Learning Approach

By Risa Pieters

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

2.1. Disaster Risk Reduction Education

2.2. Affective Learning

3. Affective Learning in Disaster Risk Reduction Education

4. Challenges

5. Conclusion

6. References

7. About the Author

 1. Introduction

“We need to keep our children safe and to involve them directly in our work to strengthen disaster preparedness.” 

- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, 11 October 2006

While nations made significant strides in reducing poverty and working towards the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, disasters reeled back years of development and progress. As seen in one year alone, 2011, 302 natural hazards resulted in disasters that caused damages worth an estimated US$366 billion (UNISDR, 2012). In that same year, disasters killed almost 30,000 people and affected about 206 million people, illuminating the urgent need for enhanced disaster risk reduction not only to safeguard progress but also to ensure basic human rights for all (UNISDR, 2012). Now, as nations work toward the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, disaster risk reduction (DRR) education will be pivotal in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and recent disasters such as Hurricane Harvey (Texas, United States) in 2017, unveiled the destruction that can ensue across social, economic, and political dimensions and starkly reminded the world that even developed nations are not immune to natural hazards. The incorporation of disaster risk reduction education in school curricula is critical for all nations as DRR education helps develop more resilient communities through raising responsive citizens across all sectors. The success of DRR education in enhancing motivation and guiding pro-social action however relies upon the ancillary internalization of values and responsibility in addition to environmental knowledge and awareness. This entry explores the potential of incorporating affective learning into DRR education to facilitate the internalization of moral values that motivate individual and collective change in behavior.

2. Background

2.1. Disaster Risk Reduction Education

UNESCO/UNEP, 2011, p. 63.

UNESCO/UNEP, 2011, p. 63.

Natural hazards are an innate part of nature; however, human alterations to the natural environment such as rapid urbanization and environmental degradation, inter alia, increase risk and pave the way for hazards to amass into disasters (Hidajat, 2009). A societal system’s capacity to mitigate the extent to which a natural hazard exacerbates into a disaster rests upon socio-economic determinants such as access to information and financial capital (UNESCO/UNEP, 2011). Consequently, developing countries and vulnerable populations suffer a disproportionately higher disaster risk. 

Disaster risk reduction requires a collaborative approach across all sectors, thus DRR education is fundamental in equipping individuals and communities with the information and capabilities needed to reduce vulnerabilities in different contexts. A more comprehensive definition of DRR education is delineated by Selby and Kagawa (2012, p. 29) in their UNICEF/UNESCO report on DRR education in school curricula:

Disaster risk reduction education is about building students’ understanding of the causes, nature and effects of hazards while also fostering a range of competencies and skills to enable them to contribute proactively to the prevention and mitigation of disaster. Knowledge and skills in turn need to be informed by a framework of attitudes, dispositions and values that propel them to act pro-socially, responsibly and responsively when their families and communities are threatened. 

DRR education has been strongly supported by governments and international organizations and the integration of DRR education in school curricula was marked as an indicator of achievement after the 2005 World Conference on Disaster Reduction. 168 UN Member States adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, and agreed to ‘use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety at all levels’ (UNISDR, 2005, p. 9). The inclusion of DRR education in curricula was further endorsed by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) campaign in 2005, Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School. Succeeding the decade guided by the HFATheSendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was adopted at the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and endorsed by the UN General Assembly to provide a comprehensive DRR development agenda. 

2.2. Affective Learning

Within the domains of learning, affective learning incorporates emotions, attitudes, motivations, and values into the learning process to encourage students to translate information and awareness into impactful behavior. In engaging the affective domain, this style of learning encourages internalization, a process in which a student’s affect towards a subject like disaster risk reduction builds upon general awareness and serves to change or guide student’s values and behavior (Seels and Glasgow, 1990). Affective learning in DRR education may take the form of storytelling, sharing hopes and fears around hazards and disasters, debriefing emotional responses to experiences, or empathetic exercises (UNISDR, 2012). Research suggests that affective learning results in enhanced personal growth and behavior change in addition to conceptual understanding (Bolkan, 2014).

The empathetic practices of affective learning also assist in unveiling the vicissitude of fortune and the exigency of individual and collective efforts to reduce that felt risk. Integrating these practices with intellectual stimulation drives motivation by fostering greater awareness of one’s capabilities and impacts (Deci et al., 2001). Affective learning thus enhances curricula, beyond rote environmental science knowledge, by facilitating the internalization of values and responsibility to motivate students to act pro-socially.

3. Affective Learning in Disaster Risk Reduction Education

UNESCO and UNICEF in 2012 jointly published a report by Selby and Kagawa, which was the primary output of a 2011 co-joint Mapping of Global DRR Integration in Education Curricula consultancy.Data were collected from thirty countries and presented with technical guidance for optimal DRR integration and practice in schools. The DRR curricula examined in the study show engagement through different learning modalities: interactive learning, affective learning, inquiry learning, surrogate experiential learning, field experiential learning, and action learning (Selby and Kagawa, 2012). A leitmotif of the curriculum review is the lack of comprehensive and interdisciplinary approaches in DRR education in school curricula (UNISDR, 2005). DRR education is noted to be primarily integrated into school curricula within the natural sciences, largely focusing on the environmental science of natural hazards and response procedures (UNISDR, 2012). Integration, however, should be comprehensive in linking disaster risk across social, economic, and political dimensions as disaster risk reduction requires a collaborative effort from all sectors. Exclusively teaching natural disasters through an environmental and emergency response framework diverts attention from prevention and mitigation, conveying the inevitability of natural disasters and rendering nugatory change in behavior (Selby and Kagawa, 2012).

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reductionsimilarly stresses the importance of pedagogical approaches that promote action and equip students for decision-making with interdisciplinary, analytical, and emotional knowledge (UNISDR, 2015). The integration of affective learning can help achieve this as it develops emotional intelligence, which is critical in motivating individuals to act pro-socially to reduce their community’s risk. Although emotions associated with disasters can be distressing and traumatizing, they constitute a powerful pedagogical tool and should not be disparaged. Through affective learning, students can participate in empathetic exercises exploring past hazards and engage in imaginative learning to relate impacts to their own lives. Encouraging students to engage with emotions related to disasters can shift their attitudes, dispositions, and values, and ultimately motivate them to act in future unforeseen events and circumstances. Incorporating affective learning also aids in shifting outlook and behavior by acquainting students with the vicissitude of fortune, raising awareness that any of those victims could have been given a change of circumstance and the limited predictability of natural hazards (Coeckelbergh, 2007). Affective learning practices, such as exploring personal stories, news coverage, interviews, and photographs, allow students to engage with the emotional and innately human aspects of disasters. This, in turn, helps make a stronger connection between the importance of risk reduction and responsibility across social, economic, and political realms.

Other practices employed in affective learning, such as visualizing outcomes, also foster higher emotional engagement. Imagination-driven social emotions discovered through affective learning can guide future decisions and actions as moral emotions are precursors of moral thoughts and behavior change (Kind and Kung, 2016). For example, engaging with positive affect states can support a student’s evaluation of choices. Stories about actions that lead to moral appraisal have shown to be motivating for students; positive emotions associated with inspiring change-making individuals and communities can build self-esteem and confidence in taking action (Kind and Kung, 2016). A high correlation has been drawn between personal self-worth and level of altruism and motivation to take action for the good of the community (Selby and Kagawa, 2012). Affective learning can facilitate this connection between emotional engagement and motivation for pro-social action to enhance DRR education’s impact beyond transfer of knowledge. 

Given the emotional intelligence value-add of affective learning, the paucity of this approach in DRR curricula is disconcerting. In the findings of Mapping of Global DRR Integration in Education Curriculaonly three countries – Fiji, Malawi, and New Zealand – employed DRR education through an affective learning mode of curriculum (UNISDR, 2012). This highlights the shortfall of most DRR education in school curricula in giving little weight to skills and attitudes and primarily focusing on knowledge and awareness (UNISDR, 2012). The learning outcomes of affective learning – the internalization of values and responsibility – align with the aim of DRR education to build the capabilities of students to act pro-socially. Thus, there is strong reason to incorporate affective learning practices within DRR education in school curricula to grow responsive and responsible citizens and ultimately build resilient communities.

4. Challenges

A challenge in integrating affective learning into DRR education is that it requires significant teacher training in facilitating emotion and trauma simulated learning. Affective learning practices and imaginative learning can be unfamiliar or uncomfortable for teachers accustomed to a textbook culture, thus it may require further teacher training and support. Additionally, since natural hazards are increasing in frequency, more students are learning about disaster risk reduction after experiencing a disaster. Teachers may need to be cognizant of the need for psychosocial support for students who may be suffering from trauma while engaging in affective learning (UNISDR, 2012). An additional challenge arises with monitoring and measurement of the correlation between shifts in values and attitudes and reduction of disaster risk. Due to DRR education’s future-oriented nature, outcomes are also classified as decisions made in future unforeseen events and circumstances, thus rendering monitoring and measurement of success to be limited. Lastly, a challenge may be posed by the contentious nature of climate change. While some countries such as Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Benin, and Nigeria have incorporated climate change as a primary lesson in DRR curriculum, many schools avoid the topic due to its political and controversial nature (UNISDR, 2012). Although it is widely agreed upon that climate change is exacerbating the frequency and intensity of disasters, whether climate change is natural or caused by humans is still a highly debated topic. Thus, the implementation of affective learning to shift behaviors, attitudes, and values may be considered too political and can result in disagreement.

5. Conclusion

Since 1981, the increase of natural disasters in number and magnitude has caused severe economic loss, the extent of which is higher than GDP growth per capita in OECD countries (UNISDR, 2011). The risk of losing wealth and reversing economic progress due to natural disasters is now exceeding the rate at which the wealth itself is being created; therefore, disaster risk reduction is and will continue to be critical for sustainable development (UNISDR, 2011). The economic, social, and financial costs of disasters not only impede growth but also reel back years of development as infrastructure is destroyed, education is disrupted, and physical and psychological trauma ensue. Disaster risk is evidently a human rights issue as it infringes upon the right to live and develop healthily (UNICEF, 2011). The mitigation of disaster risk requires a collaborative effort and it begins with the empowerment of children, encouraging them to change in behavior and to contribute as responsible citizens to the resilience of the larger community over time. For disaster risk reduction education to succeed in its purpose of informing students with a framework of attitudes, dispositions and values that propel them to act pro-socially, learning must go beyond the transfer of rote environmental science knowledge and work to build capabilities and emotional intelligence. Thus, integrating affective learning into DRR education, to promote the internalization of moral values and to motivate pro-social action, will be pertinent to attaining the 2030 sustainable development agenda and building a more resilient future.

6. References

Bolkan, S. (2014). Intellectually Stimulating Students’ Intrinsic Motivation: The Mediating Influence of Affective Learning and Student Engagement. Communication Reports. 28(2). doi: 10.1080/08934215.2014.962752

Coeckelbergh, M. (2007). Imagination and Principles: An Essay on the Role of Imagination in Moral Reasoning.Palgrave Macmillan. 

Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, and Ryan. (2001). Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective. Educational Psychologist. 26(3-4). doi:10.1080/00461520.1991.9653137

Hidajat, R. (2009). World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development. Concept Note: Learning to Live with Risk – Disaster Risk Reduction to Encourage for Sustainable Development.German Committee for Disaster Risk Reduction. 

Kind, A & Kung, P. (2016). Knowledge Through Imagination.Oxford University Press.

Oskin, B. (2017). Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011: Facts and Information. LiveScience.

Seels, B. & Glasgow, Z. (1990). Exercises in Instructional Design.Merrill Publishing Company.

Selby, D. & Kagawa, F. (2012). Disaster Risk Reduction in School Curricula: Case Studies from Thirty Countries. United Nations Children’s Fund.

United Nations Children’s Fund. (UNICEF). (2011). Disaster Risk Reduction and Education. Retrieved from

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (2011). Climate Change Starter’s Guidebook: An Issues Guide for Education Planners and Practitioners. Paris: UNESCO/UNEP. 

United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. (UNISDR). (2005). Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters. Geneva: The Author. 

UNISDR. (2012). Towards a Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Retrieved from

UNISDR. (2015). Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. Retrieved from

About the Author

Risa Pieters

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Cultural Heritage of Gujo Dance in Japan

By JIN Ying Crystal

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. The History and Status of Gujo Dance

3. The Importance of Education for Gujo Dance

4. Education and Gujo DanceHeritage

5. Risks for the Cultural Heritage of Gujo Dance

6. Conclusion 

7. References

8. About the Author

1. Introduction

Bon Festival is a traditional Buddhist festivalfor the Japanese to commemorate their ancestors. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and, as time goes by, it carries forward the traditional culture by not only passing on the traditional customs but also injecting something new into them. By now the Festival has evolved into a family reunion holiday with many activities, one of which isBon Festival dance. Gujo dance is one of the three most famous Bon dancesin Japan, with a long history of around 400 years. This entry intends to introduce the traditional and modern significance of the dance. I will first present the historical background and contemporary situation of Gujo dance in Japan, then move to an analysis of the significance of the dance from traditional and modern perspectives, and the challenges it is facing. After that, some suggestions will be put forward for further work required for maintaining this cultural heritage.

2. The History and Status of Gujo Dance

Bon is the shortened form of Ullambana, which means the great suffering. Bon dance originated from a story: a disciple of Buddha saved his deceased mother who had fallen into the realm of hungry ghosts and suffered a lot. He was happy to dance for his mother’s release and also grateful for his mother’s kindness for sacrificing so much for him. This dance gradually became a custom to commemorate and appreciate the sacrifices of the ancestorsof the Japanese.

During the past few centuries, Bon dance has evolved into different kinds of dances that vary from region to region. Gujo dance is the traditional dance from the Gifu prefecture since the Tokugawa period (around 400 years ago). Gujo dance is famous for its ‘tetsuya’ dance, which means that people gather and dance through the whole night for four nights in mid-August. The number of dancers usually exceeds 30,000 people each night. Gujo dance is also famous for its easy accessibility, and it has become a sightseeing experience for foreigners. Anyone can join the dance, without caring about the clothes or their dancing skills.

3. The Importance of Education for Gujo Dance

Gujo dance originated from religious custom in Gujo, and its original significance is to honor the spirits of ancestors. The Japanese believe that they can use some special objects to help their ancestors come to this world during Bon festival, and then send them back to their world the same way. Thus, Gujo dance is one way for the people in Gujo to celebrate the arrival of their ancestors and spend the day together.

In the modern society, Gujo dance does not only preserve the traditional significance of commemorating ancestors, but adds something new to it. In fact, the religious factor does not play a major part in the cultural heritage of Gujo dance, and some new functions of Gujo dance have come to the fore. They include family reunion, neighborhood association, and a way of spreading the culture.  

During Bon Festivalthe Japanese have 4 to 7 days off which gives them an opportunity to reunite with their family members to chat with each other, participate in activities together, and join others in Gujo dance. As a large number of people return home during this period, causing traffic jams, the Japanese started to refer to this time as the ‘national movement’. 

In Japan, interaction with neighbors is regarded as an important event in daily life. To some extent, Gujo dance contributes to neighborhood association, as it provides an opportunity for everyone in the region to gather together and enjoy dancing and chatting. In contemporary circumstances, it even plays a more important role, given the accelerated pace of life which makes it almost impossible to spend time with neighbours.

The National Survey on Lifestyle Preferences (Cabinet Office, 2010) studied the participation rate in various activities of Bon Festival. As can be seen in Figure 1, the participation rate in the festival events, including Bon dance, is 49.5%. This means that around half of the whole population participated in the festival events. Although festival events have a very small influence on daily life, people still have a high interest in participating in them. 

Figure 1.  Activity participation in the past year (Cabinet Office, 2010).

Figure 1. Activity participation in the past year (Cabinet Office, 2010).

Figure 2 shows motivation for participating in the festival. From this figure, some key words such as ‘neighborhood’ and ‘region’ show the importance of interaction and communication with others. We can draw the conclusion that neighborhood association is onereason for maintaining Gujo dance.

Figure 2.  Motivation of participating in regional activities (Cabinet Office, 2010).

Figure 2. Motivation of participating in regional activities (Cabinet Office, 2010).

In 1996, Gujo dance was designated as an important intangible folk cultural asset. To keep this intangible folk cultural asset alive, we should emphasize its domestic heritage and spread it internationally as a part of the Japanese culture. The minister of the intangible culture asset department of the Independent Administrative Institution National Institutes for Cultural Heritage Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Propertiespointed out that Gujo dance is a way of facilitating international cultural communication. In the international performing arts festival that started in 1996, unique dances have been performed over 30 times. Bon dance including Gujo dance has been performed 8 times. At the same time, Gujo dance has gradually developed into an opening activity to invite foreigners to join in. This way it helps enhance cross-cultural communication.

4. Education andGujo DanceHeritage

Gujo dance, as an intangible cultural asset, differs from other kinds of tangible cultural assets, as it cannot be preserved without the participation of human beings. Thus, education as a unique form of inheriting knowledge and culture comes to the fore when we try to develop intangible culture.

Gujo dance is held every year as an informal education which creates an opportunity for the younger generation to hear traditional folk stories retold by the older generation and learn how to dance. The Japan Broadcasting Corporation made a documentary about Gujo dance in a TV program called ‘Seasoning the Seasons’ (NHK, 2012). The program describes Gujo dance as a ‘dancing dance’ rather than a ‘watching dance’. Meanwhile, the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan has published a document named Protection system of intangible cultural heritage, pointing out some policies and measures to assist the sustainable development of traditional culture, including Gujo dance. 

Although education for inheriting Gujo dance is taking place, it does not seem enough for transmitting and developing this unique culturalheritage in the long-term. One example of education for cultural heritage is the Iemoto system which is applied in learning about two kinds of traditional Japanese culture connected with music and dance, named nogaku and kabuki (Cang, 2008). The Iemoto system is a cross-generational learning led by an authority figure who is considered the master of the art being taught. This system could be usedfor education for inheriting Gujo dance, if careful modification could be made according to the characteristics and context of Gujo dance.

5. Risks for the Cultural Heritage of Gujo Dance

Although Gujo dance has become so popular as to even being performed on the international stage, we cannot overlook the risks of losing the pure and traditional part of Gujo dance. Sometimes, internalization of Gujo dance may lead to ignoring the original motivation and traditional customs, since sacrifices must be made to conformto international standards and trends. 

In Japan, tourism industrialization of Gujo dance brings challenges that may impede the original intention of a traditional culture. Tourism is no doubt a useful way to facilitate regional development (Torigoe, 2014). However, as visitors’ needs have to be met, the activity gets re-organized in a way that serves tourists. For example, in the past, during the overnight Gujo dance, everyone in the region would participate in dancing; thus every restaurant and shop would close for everyone to enjoy dancing. Now the situation seems to have been changed so as to make visitors’ experience with Gujo dancebetter: other services such as meals, costume rental, dance teaching, need to be provided. 

Dancing with visitors using simpler movements gradually leads to a sense of burden, instead of enjoyment of the activity. Under the pressure of providing better services to visitors, which sometimes has already been seen as a mental burden, in turn leads to the disregard of the personal pursuit of happiness for local people during Gujo dance. This transforms local people from participants to servers, andGujo dance from a local activity to an over-commercialised touristicperformance. Although bringing visitors could inject some energy or vitality into the dance to some extent, there can be negative changes too. Adachi (2004) did a study in Gujo and opined that Gujo dance was no longer a local dance. While the tourism industry opens a door for Gujo dance to spread all over the world, it also brings rirks, the overlooking of which may make Gujo dance pay a heavy price. 

6. Conclusion

Gujo dance has a long history of over 400 years and is identified as an intangible cultural folk asset, as well as one of three most important Bon dances in Japan. Although it originated from religious customs to commemorate ancestors, now it is developing by injecting something new into it. This development calls for education that can help transmitGujo dance. First, the Bon vacation can create an opportunity for family reunion, which seems very significant since it could be the only chance for many people to go back to their hometown during the whole year. Second, Gujo dance is so popular that the whole region participates in it, which also creates an opportunity for neighbors to communicate with each other, leading to the development of neighborhood association. Finally, Gujo dance contributes to cultural heritage from a domestic view, and spreads Japanese culture to the whole world. 

Some efforts for improving education for inheriting traditional culture have been seen, but there is still room for caution . The tourism industry can help preserve the dance and develop it by adjusting to the modern times, but it also brings the risk of over-commercialization, and the loss of the traditional core. There is a  need for a balance between globalization and cultural heritage. What can help is prioritizing preservation of the original local dance in a form acceptable by the local population, while placing the development of tourism as a secondary task.

7. References

Adachi, S. (2004). Nosutaruji wo Tsuujita Dento Bunka no Keisyu – Gifuken Gujoshi Hachimantyo no Gujo Odori no Jirei kara. (In Japanese) [The Inheritance of Traditional Culture through Nostalgia: A Case Study of Gujo Odori (Gujo Bon Festival Dance) in the Town of Hachiman, Gifu Prefecture.] Journal of New Developments in Environmental Sociology, (10), 42-58.

Cabinet Office. (2010). National Survey on Lifestyle Preferences. Retrieved from

Cang, V. G. (2008). Preserving Intangible Heritage in Japan: The Role of the Iemoto System. International Journal of Intangible Heritage3, 72-81.

NHK. (2012). Seasoning the Seasons: Gujo Dance. Retrieved from:

Torigoe, H. (2014). Life Environmentalism: A Model Developed under Environmental Degradation. International Journal of Japanese Sociology, (23), 21–31. doi: 10.1111/ijjs.12022

About the Author

JIN Ying Crystal

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Peace-building Education in Myanmar

By Roi Seng Hkum

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction 

2.    Challenges to Building Peace in Myanmar

1.    2.1. Lack of Shared History and Common Goals

2.    2.2. Entrenched Distrust and Group Bias

3.    Solutions to the Challenges of Peace-building in Myanmar 

3.    3.1. Humanising and Multicultural Education

4.    3.2. Democratic Dialogic Pedagogy for Conflict Resolution

4.    Conclusion 

5.    References 

6.    About the Author 

1. Introduction

Myanmar has 135 ethnic groups, 8 of which are known as major ethnic groups of Myanmar (Holliday, 2010; Jolliffe, 2014). The majority ethnic group, the Barman,constitutes about two-third of the population of the country. Unresolved ethnic conflicts between the ethnic Barman dominated military government and ethnic minorities’ armed groups have been hampering democratization and the nation building process of Myanmar. They also lead to several negative economic and social consequences such as poverty, entrenched distrust, prejudice, and discrimination. Therefore, identifying conceivable and sustainable peace-building approaches to improve racial and ethnic relations in Myanmar is an urgent matter. 

Gill and Niens (2014, p. 11) state that sustainable peace-building focuses not only on ‘negative peace as an absence of war,’ but also on how to cultivate ‘positive peace’ characteristics such as respect, justice, harmony, and inclusiveness among people. To sustain peace among ethnic groups in Myanmar, the notion of peace-building should go beyond the idea of peace-making as eradicating civil war and conflicts and instead involve profound ways of changing people’s perceptions and behaviours toward other ethnic groups. In this entry, I analyse factors that shape people’s behaviours in order to pinpoint the possible root causes of ethnic conflicts in Myanmar. Further, I propose possible pedagogical strategies to cultivate peace characteristics among people.

2. Challenges to Building Peace in Myanmar

2.1. Lack of Shared History and Common Goals 

A careful re-examination of the history of ethnic conflicts in Myanmar is a way to trace roots of conflicts since history narrates what shapes the ways people think and how they react to a certain situation. Myanmar, formerly Burma, was invaded in stages by the British since 1824, and the colonization of the country was completed by exiling the last King of Burma in 1886. Walton (2008) states that resistance movements against the British rule took place from 1939 to 1945 and by the end of 1946 it was clear for the British and the Burmese that independence of Burma would soon be achieved. Waltonmentions that the major question for the British government and Myanmar leaders before independence was whether ‘the Frontier Areas’ would be joining ‘Ministerial Burma’ in independence or not. 

In 1947, the Panglong conference was held among ethnic groups in urgency of attaining unification of the Frontier Areas and Ministerial Burma for independence. Its result was the Panglong Agreement, a political agreement between General Aung San, the leader of the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL), and representatives of some ethnic minority groups about how to associate politically after independence. Some months after the conference, General Aung San and several transitional government cabinet members were assassinated. Thus, the agreements of Panglong were futile and the outbreak of ethnic conflict started some months after Myanmar gained independence in 1948. 

The Union of Burma began as a parliamentary democracy which ended in 1962 after a political split within AFPFL and ethnic strife wrought by ethnic groups’ limited access to the parliamentary rights and political power over their own regions (Huang, 2013). In 1962, General Ne Win took over the government in a military coup by establishing a revolutionary ruling council and created the Burma Socialist Programmed Party (BSPP), a single party rule system replacing the multiparty system advocating the ‘Burmese Way to Socialism’ (Xu and Albert, 2016). In 1988, nation-wide strikes and demonstrations brought down the BSPP after decades of disastrous economic mismanagement and unstable political situation with ethnic groups (Huang, 2013). In 1989, General Than Shwe took over the ruling power by establishing a new ruling state council, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) which later became the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) with more pragmatic economic strategies and policies for strengthening the government’s control over the state and especially ethnic areas (Huang, 2013). However, political and economic oppression over citizens without military ties and oppression of minorities fuelled frustration among citizens throughout SPDC rule. Internal and external oppositions towards the military regime led the military government to adopt a parliamentary system in 2010 in which 25% of seats are taken by military elites (Huang, 2013). In the 2015 election, the National League for Democracy (NLD), a civilian party, won a landslide victory and the first quasi-civil government took over the country (Xu and Albert, 2016). Nevertheless, ethnic conflicts in the country remain critical under the new quasi-civil government of Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of the assassinated founding father of the Union of Burma government. 

The current government followed suit of the previous military regimes and upheld the prominent myth of ‘the spirit of Burmese unity or the spirit of Panglong’ which claims that all ethnic minorities have agreed to become members of the Union of Burma. A popular statement that the military government usually makes is ‘to defend the integrity of Burma against both foreign attacks on national sovereignty and against internal elements attempting to dismantle the union through separatistpolitics’ (Walton, 2008, p. 904). In contrast to the military government, NLDdeprecates the oppression of minorities. However, NLD seems to believe that a spirit of Burmese unity will be achieved through policy changes(Richard, 2016).To be able to create an inclusive policy for all minorities, NLD should call all ethnic minorities (even armed groups) for several inclusive democratic dialogues first (Lynn, 2017). 

According to Walton (2008), the only official representatives of minorities at Panglong were from the Shan, the Kachin, and the Chin. However, the leaders of these three groups did not seem to represent their own people. For instance, the ruling power of the Shan leaders was challenged among their own ethnic group at that time. Moreover, AFPFL seemed to only invite to the conference the minority group leaders who had a tendency to agree with their ideas due to the urgency in attaining agreement from the Frontier Areas for independence (Thawnghmung, 2011). The Mon and Rakhine (ethnic minorities) that were parts of Ministerial Burma Areas were excluded in Panglong, as the conference was targeted to ascertain the wishes of the Frontier Areas. Several minorities such as the Wa, the Naga, and the Rohingya were also rejected (Thawnghmung, 2011; Walton, 2008). The Karen attended the conference only as observers (Thawnghmung, 2011). Therefore, the agreement of Panglong does not seem to represent the whole population of Myanmar. ‘The spirit of Burmese Unity’ that the military government has defended throughout history appears toignore the issues between AFPFL and minorities, as well as the feelings and wishes of the majority of the ethnic minorities.

While the military and NLD seem to use marginalisation (the rights of minorities are ignored) and a multiculturalism approach (minorities will be protected across the land by the law) to build a nation, ethnic minorities prefer ‘ethnic enclaves policy’ that provides specific political, social and economic autonomy to ethnic minorities within their own states (Holliday, 2010, p. 121). The lack of common goals in building a nation and asserting the myth (the spirit of Panglong) without careful attention to the needs of ethnic groups fuels conflicts between the government and minorities. Therefore, the root of the conflicts may not only be the result of futile promises of Panglong, but it may also be attributable to the lack of shared history and myths among various groups.

2.2. Entrenched Distrust and Group Bias

Betrayal of AFPFL and the military’s oppression of minorities are the primary reasons that cause minorities’ distrust toward the government (Barman). However, minorities seem to have loyalty to the British government over the Barmans when one examines the history carefully. Walton (2008) claims that minorities joined AFPFL in fighting against the Japanese during World War II due to their loyalty to the British government and hope to receive back favour one day. Ethnic minorities were favoured with important positions in the colonial military over the majority group (Barmans) as the British government feared empowerment of the majorities (Weiss, 2017). Owing to this disproportional governance over Ministerial Areas and Frontier Area during the colonial period, rarely any positive relationships or unity seemed to exist between Barmans of the plains and hill landers. Besides, group identification and group bias among ethnic groups polarize their attitude toward each other. The Barman government’s subjugation of minorities make minorities have stronger identification with their own ethnic group.

3. Solutions to the Challenges of Peace-building in Myanmar

3.1. Humanising and Multicultural Education 

To eradicate distrust and group bias among ethnic groups, concepts of humanism and multiculturalism should be instigated among communities by using a multi-sectorial approach. Humanism entails cultivating values such as perspective taking and justice that enable people restore a relationship with others, and multiculturalism means valuing and respecting cultural diversity (Rosenthal and Levy, 2010; Gill and Niens, 2014a, 2014b). Steinberg (2012) argues that ‘nation-state’ policy in which a government tries to assimilate minorities coercively (marginalizing minorities’ culture) into the dominant group’s culture for a national identity creates more conflicts in Myanmar (p. 5). He suggests that Myanmar should consider using an alternative policy called ‘the state-nation’ in which people are encouraged to respect each culture, and endorse multicultural society and multiple identities that complement each other (Steinberg, 2012). 

The focus of multiculturalism is to provide equal opportunities for education to students of different cultural backgrounds (BanksandBanks, 2009). Even though this policy has been implemented in most schools, the concepts of multiculturalism and humanism are not enforced in the curriculum. In some areas, such as Rakhine State, although all students have educational access to high school, students from the Muslim ethnic group (the Rohingya) are not allowed to leave their birthplace for higher education. In addition, thousands of Rohigya have been persecuted by the military government since 2012 (The Irrawaddy, 2017). The root causes of the conflict in the Rakhine state are injustice and fear that leadto extreme patriotism and group bias among Buddhist Burmese. Therefore, concepts of humanism and multiculturalism should be introduced among communities through different media and formal/informal educational channels by local and international non-government organizations (NGOs). The concept of humanism may help people to recognize human superordinate identity and it may prevent people from extreme patriotism.

To enforce these concepts in formal education system, first teachers’ mindsets should be transformed during pre-service training. Teachers should also be supported with in-service training to create opportunities for students to develop empathy, respect for differences, and justice. Moreover, religious leaders in Myanmar should be encouraged to speak against protecting one's own religion by degrading others, which is not in line with orthodox Buddhist teachings. A Buddhist monk, Ashin Wirathu, refers to Muslims as ‘mad dogs’ in his preaching (Fuller, 2013, p. A1). Religious leaders ought to make efforts for reconciliation between communities. As people tend to have greater trust in members of in-group than those of out-group (Hamilton, 1979), other Buddhist leaders should challenge Ashin Wirathu’s preaching. The government must play a role by introducing a law under which all religious and ethnic groups in Myanmar are protected impartially. 

Additionally, the majority group, the Barmans, should acknowledge that the privileged experiences that they have are different from the repressive experiences of minorities and take effort to work against the government’s oppression of minorities. Furthermore, policies for justice and national change process developed by international organisations should not be underestimated in the case of Myanmar.

3.2. Democratic Dialogic Pedagogy for Conflict Resolution 

The myths of Panglong among the military, the NLD, and ethnic groups cannot be unravelled unless these three parties are willing to have a democratic dialogue. After a prolonged period with no freedom of speech under the military government, the people in Myanmar are not accustomed to having constructive democratic dialogues about conflicts. Bickmore and Parker (2014) affirm that ‘[d]ialogue processes, unlike debate, focus on cooperating to develop mutual understanding rather than on competing or winning’ (p. 293). Constructive democratic dialogue involves empathetic listening, interest enquiry, divergent perspective inclusion, and cooperative resolution (Bickmore and Parker, 2014). 

Democratic dialogic practices should be infused in regular school curriculum to nurture young people for peace-building. Teachers can create activities for students to have dialogue to develop their capacities to discuss conflicts, differences and controversies from history and everyday life. However, democratic dialogue may create marginalization of the voices of minorities. For example, students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students who are shy may find it difficult to express their opinions freely. Therefore, it is crucial that teachers are equipped with knowledge and skills of how to integrate ideals of humanism and multiculturalism. Nevertheless, teachers cannot be successful in implementing dialogic pedagogy in the curriculum unless there is commitment from their school head and the government. Thus, individuals in the community have a responsibility to require the government to make policy changes in education. 

4. Conclusion

To make changes affecting people’s perception and behaviour, one needs to understand factors shaping their thinking and behaviour. One cannot comprehend these shaping factors without a careful re-examination of the ethnic conflict history and reflection of past mistakes. The next step is to embrace conflicts as learning opportunities and to go forward by allowing open democratic dialogues about conflicts among citizens and political parties. However, dialogue without respect, perspective taking, justice, trust, and forgiveness will only lead to further anger and hatred among groups. Therefore, cognitive and value transformation should take place first among communities before practicing democratic dialogue among ethnic groups. Patience may be a vital value that people should abide by in the transformation process. Without patience and the efforts of all citizens and parties, peace-building in Myanmar cannot be attained.  

5. References

The Irrawaddy(2017, September 21). Analysis: Using the term ‘Rohingya’.Retrieved from

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (2009). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives. John Wiley & Sons.

Bickmore, K. (2014). Peace-building (in) Education: Democratic Approaches to Vonflict in Schools and Classrooms. Curriculum Inquiry, 44(4), 443-449. doi: 10.1111/curi.12062

Bickmore, K., & Parker, C. (2014). Constructive Conflict Talk in Classrooms: Divergent Approaches to Addressing Divergent Perspectives. Theory & Research in Social Education, 42(3), 291-335. 

Gill, S., & Niens, U. (2014a). Education as Humanisation: Dialogic Pedagogy in Post-conflict Peace-building. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 44(1), 1-9. doi:10.1080/03057925.2013.864522

Gill, S., & Niens, U. (2014b). Education as Humanisation: A Theoretical Review on the Role of Dialogic Pedagogy in Peace-building Education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 44(1), 10-31. doi:10.1080/03057925.2013.859879

Hamilton, D. L. (1979). A Cognitive-attributional Analysis of Stereotyping. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology12, 53-84.

Holliday, I. (2010). Ethnicity and Democratization in Myanmar. Asian Journal of Political Science, 18(2), 111-128. 

Huang, R. L. (2013). Re-thinking Myanmar's Political Regime: Military Rule in Myanmar and Implications for Current Reforms. Contemporary Politics19(3), 247-261.

Jolliffe, K. (2014). Ethnic Conflict and Social Services in Myanmar's Contested Regions: Asia Foundation Yangon.

Lynn, N. H. (2017, March 09). Panglong, Then and Now, and the Promise of Peace. Frontier Myanmar.Retrieved from

Richard, D. (2016, August 06). The Problem with the 21stCentury Panglong Conference. The Diplomat. Retrieved from

Rosenthal, L., & Levy, S. R. (2010). The Colour-blind, Multicultural, and Polycultural Ideological Approaches to Improving Intergroup Attitudes and Relations. Social Issues and Policy Review4(1), 215-246.

Steinberg, D. I. (2012). The Problem of Democracy in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar: Neither Nation-state nor State-nation? Southeast Asian Affairs, 2012(1), 220-237. 

Thawnghmung, A. M. (2011). Beyond Armed Resistance: Ethnonational Politics in Burma (Myanmar). Policy Studies (62), III. 

Walton, M. J. (2008). Ethnicity, Conflict, and History in Burma: The Myths of Panglong. Asian Survey, 48(6), 889-910. 

Weiss, S. A. ( 2017, July 21). Did Aung San Lead at Panglong- or Follow?The Diplomat. Retrieved from

Xu, B., & Albert, E. (2016, March 25). Understanding Myanmar.Foreign Affairs. Retrieved from

About the Author

Roi Seng Hkum

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


The Role of Co-Curricular Activities in ESD in Ethiopia

By Shimellis Tobesa Mamo

Table of Contents                                                                             

1.   Introduction                                                                                                                        

2.   Co-Curricular Activities Implementation and Status in Addis Ababa                                                             

3.   Co-Curricular Activities contribution to Education for Sustainable Development 

4    Factors Affecting Implementation of Co-Curricular Activities                                                                       

5.   Recommendations                                                                                                              

6.    Conclusion                                                                                                                         

7.    References    

1. Introduction

Co-curricular activities (CCAs) are activities and learning experiences that complement what students learn in school (Ferguson, 2001). With only what they learn in formal academic classrooms, students cannot be fully aware of the problems the society is currently facing and acquire skills that could possibly help them solve these problems. Parallel to formal class lessons, CCAs have a real-world role in quality education because these activities are a way of exposure to real life in society. According to the United Nations (UN) (2015), a quality education is one that ‘provides all learners with the capabilities they require to become economically productive, develop sustainable livelihoods, contribute to peaceful and democratic societies, and enhance individual well-being.’Quality education plays an invaluable role in the sustainable development of a country. 

According to McKown (1952), CCAs are as old as education itself and used to be called extra-curricular activities (Aggarwal, 2000). These activities used to supplement curricular activities in or outside the four walls of formal classrooms. Although CCAs are embedded in the curriculum and most often called ‘clubs’, the Ethiopian Ministry of Education (MoE) (1994) has preferred the term CCAs to extracurricular activities to stress its significance. It can be seen that the policy incorporates learning that enhancesstudents’ creativity and productivity and is mainly offered in the form of clubs within school settings.However, schools currently focus more on academic classes in which students are expected to remember what they learned in a class to pass exams. 

‘Education’, however, should be comprehensive and incorporate learning inside and outside of school. In order to gain skills in creative problem solving, education has to be integrated into real-life experiences in which students can grow their skills while participating in CCAs. This entry discussesthe current CCAs implementation status along with its contribution to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), identifiesfactors that challengeits implementation in secondary schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and provides recommendations.   

2. Co-Curricular Activities Implementation and Status in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, has 217 secondary schools teaching grades nine to twelve (Educational Statistics Annual Abstract (ESAA), 2015a). Although every academic year all schools expected to set up clubs during the first month, the types of clubs established differ from school to school. The most common clubs are sports, Red Cross, Anti-HIV/AIDS, subject clubs, Art, Mini media, Library, and Charity. After clubs are established, club leaders or active members are responsible for management of the clubs. Rahel (2012) found that each year only less than 21% of established secondary school clubs in Addis Ababa remain active throughout the academic year, and the rest of them stagnate immediately after establishment. 

More emphasis has been given to regular curriculum, which results in students’ inability to link excellence in academic performance to active participation in CCAs (Rashid and Sasidhar, 2005). Although the curriculum aims to relate education to societal needs to cultivate students’ creativity, with only the knowledge they learn in formal classrooms students may not be able to fully unleash their potential to meet societal needs. To address this and other issues in the curriculum the General Education Quality Improvement Package was introduced in Ethiopia in 2007 to focus on improving the quality of education under six programs (MoE, 2007). 

Shehu (2001) showed that teacher participation in CCAs had a tremendous impacton creating a good image or acting as role model for motivating students and nurture creativity in CCAs. The findings revealed that for the development of students’ talents in CCAs it was essential for school administrators to set strategies for promoting CCAs in schools, motivateteachers, assignteachers’roles in supervising CCAs,and mobilizeresources (Panigrahi and Yadesa, 2012). Although teachers should guide and help students in club activities, most teachers tend to take an active role when there are incentives or if clubs are fully funded. Anti-HIV/AIDS, sports, and Red Cross are among the clubs that are generally funded by external stakeholders, such as the World Vision, National Red Cross Society, UNICEF, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Youth and Sport. Apart from their responsibilityto thesociety, these stakehoders fund activities of the clubs that align with their vision and mission in the society.These activities are consistent throughout the academic year while others function occasionally. There are also schools that run clubs using different motivating mechanisms although they do not have budget and facilities allocated. For instance,creating competitions, providingskills training,and certifying members are among mechanisms some schools in Addis Ababa use to run CCAs.

3. Co-Curricular Activities contribution to Education for Sustainable Development

‘Teach me, and I will forget. Show me, and I might remember. Involve me, and I will never forget,’is a well-known Chinese proverb which portrays the importance of club activities in active learning. Tronc (1976) asserted that theoretical knowledge is enriched when a CCA related to the content taught in the classroom is organized. To be part of a solution for the society they live in, students should be exposed to the challenges of real-world daily life through participatory activities such as CCAs (Davis, 2008).  Formal academic classeswill then also be viewed as relevantby students ifcomplemented by tangible activities outside of school time. Davis (2008) further explained that students who have participated in CCAs are more active in theirsocietiesthan those who are not, which showsthe importance of settinglearning to solve social, cultural and economic problems faced by students and theirlocal community as the aim of school clubs. 

Ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) the United Nations adopted in 2015, known asSDG 4.  

According to Grisay and Mahlck (1991), the general concept of quality of education is made up of three interrelated dimensions. These are ‘the quality of human and material resources available for teaching (inputs), the quality of teaching practices (process), and the quality of results (outputs and outcomes).’ Schoolactivities contribute to quality education, which is a basis for sustainable development of a country. Education is the key that will allow many other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved. For example, when people are able to get quality education(SDG 4), they can break from the cycle of poverty (SDG 1) because they can acquire decent employment (SDG 8). What quality education also helps with is achieving gender equality (SDG 5) because it reduces inequality (SDG 10). It is also quality education that leads to innovation(SDG 9) which empowers people everywhere to live more healthy and sustainable lives (SDG 11). CCAs promotes quality education by motivating students tolearnandexploretheir talents.

4.   Factors Affecting Implementation of Co-Curricular Activities

The effectiveness of CCAs often depends on the individual motivation and the favorable environment in which activities takeplace (Shehu, 2001). Although clubs are established every academic year in every school, not all schools implement and support these activities. Different studies revealed that factors affecting implementation of CCAs are internaland external. 

Kassa (2016) identified the followinginternalfactors: a crowded curriculum thatdoes not give time CCAs to happen, large class sizes limiting focus on individual abilities, low levels of interest in students who are assigned to clubs without their choice, and low levels of encouragement and motivation that would affect students’ participation in CCAs. In some secondary schools of Addis Ababa, schools assign students to clubs without their choice, which makesthem passive in club activities. Also, most students do not pay much attention because theylack awareness ofwhat specific role they will play in the club (Rahel, 2012).Lack of clear guiding material for CCAs in schools is another factor affecting implementation of CCAs. Shehu (2001) suggeststhat for these activities to be successful an institution needsto develop co-curricular goals and operational framework to give a clear mission and vision to clubs. The Ministry of Education has also put in its Education Sector Development Programme V (ESDP V) a statementthat students were not aware of goals of clubs they signed up for (MoE, 2015b).   

The funding that schools are provided with bythe government does not allocate a budget for CCAs unless school administrators set the budget for CCAs from their schools’income. School clubs like Anti-HIV/AIDS, Red Cross, Sport, and Library are successful clubs to some extent compared to others, because of access to facilities and small budgets allocated to them. The others,especially subject-related clubs,are not given importance. It means that practical activities such asscience and IT laboratories, which need facilities and resources,are unlikely to function despite interest. Although budgets are available in some schools, priorities are always given to administrative and academic actions (Bunyi, 2013). 

Lack of awareness among parents is also a limiting factor for students when it comes to time they spend in clubs’ activities. Families mostly do not understand that participation of students in CCAs can help them develop different skills. Panigrahi and Yadesa (2012) stated that for CCAs to yield results, some students have to get permission from their parents for activities after the normal class hours, which is challenging for most students as parents are not aware of the advantages of suchactivities. 

5. Recommendations

Students pursuing their hobbies achieve better results in their studies and their academic performance improvesas they learn to balance their CCAs with their academic pursuits(Bergen-Cico and Viscomi, 2012). Creating asystemto identify students’ talents and interests would be helpful in assigning them to clubs. The existence of clubs in schools alone is not enough for schools to run activities. Guiding materials or documents for each club activity should be provided, because not all schools have teachers everyyear who can facilitate these activities.

Activities in each subject could be integrated withclubsso that students can participate in their regular classes. Since the curriculum favors these activities,schools can also share experiences from successful clubs in other schools. As clubs contribute to students’ personal development and academic achievements, consideration should be given in schools’ budgeting. 

Parents and community should be aware of what CCAs add to students’ development. Schools canholdevents to showcase their clubsto parents,and  organizeannual tournaments, competitions, and festivals for different clubs to motivatestudents and their families. Furthermore, integration of CCAs into the syllabi would be useful for the execution of activities.

6. Conclusion

CCAs, generally referred to as ‘clubs’ in Addis Ababa secondary schools’ context,  are usually established at the start of each academic year. Yet more emphasis has generally been given to regular curriculum, which results in students’ inability to link excellence in academic performance to active participation in CCAs. It is evident that implementing CCAs appropriately in schools is a major way to make formal classroom education relevant to students’ immeduateenvironment and their society’sneeds. However, not all schools implement CCAs despite the fact that  education should focus on all-round development of an individual to help him/her be a contributing member ofsociety. Therefore, there must be a balance between classroom activities and CCAs. Although some schools partially implementthese activities, the majority of schools stop at the establishment level because of different factors. Being not assigned to clubs of their choice or interest during’ recruitment, lack of guiding manuals, no budget allocation, and lack of awareness among parents are some of the hindering factors in implementing CCAs in secondary schools in Addis Ababa. 

7.    References

Aggarwal, C. (2000). School Organization, Administration and Management. New Delhi: Doaba House.

Bergen-Cico, D., & Viscomi, J. (2012). Exploring the Association Between Campus Co-curricular Involvement and Academic Achievement. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice14(3),329-343.

Bunyi, W. (2013). The Quest for Quality Education: The Case of Curriculum Innovations in Kenya. European Journal of Training and Development37(7), 678-691. 

Davis, G. (2008) Quality Education: Prospects and Challenges. APH Publishing. New Delhi.

Ferguson Publishing Company. (2001). Co-curricular Activities: A Pathway to Careers. Chicago, Ill.: Ferguson Pub.

Grisay, A. & Mahlck, L. (1991). The Quality of Education in Developing Countries: A Review of Some Research Studies and Policy Documents.Paris: International Institute of Educational  Planning.

Kassa, T. (2016). Factors Affecting the Participation of Students in Extracurricular 

Activities in Bole Sub-city of Addis Ababa Region. Addis Ababa University.           

McKown, C.1952.Extracurricular Activities, Third Edition, New York: Macmillan Co.

Ministry of Education (MoE). (1994). Ethiopian Education and Training Policy. Addis Ababa, St. George Printing Press.

Ministry of Education (MoE). (2007). General Education Quality Improvement Package. Addis Ababa. Birhanina Selam.

Ministry of Education (MoE). (2015a). Educational Statistics Annual Abstract (ESAA).EMIS. Addis Ababa.  

Ministry of Education (MoE). (2015b). Education Sector Development Programme V (ESDP V)(Programme Action Plan). Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Panigrahi, M. & Yadesa, B. (2012). Implementation of Co-Curricular Activities in Secondary Schools of Oromia Special Zone Surrounding Finfine. An International Multidisciplinary Peer Reviewed E Journal,1(4),190-213.  

Rahel, G. (2012). The Practice of Co-Curricular Activities and How They Develop Students’Talent in Preparatory Schools in Addis Ababa.Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa

Rashid, A., Sitra, A., Medan, T., & Sasidhar, B. (2005). Teachers’ Perception on the Effectiveness of Co-curricular Activities: A Case Study of Malaysian Schools. Retrieved from 

Shehu, J. (2001). Co-curriculum and Co-curricular Activities in Education and Youth Development. Paper in Education Development19, 84-95. 

Tronc, K. (1976). Quality education. Sydney: McGraw-Hill.

United Nations (UN). (2015). Education: Sustainable Development. Retrieved from  

About the Author 

Shimellis Tobesa Mamo

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


The Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in Higher Education and Teacher Training in Uzbekistan

By Khaydarov Sherzod

Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. The Role of the Government in the Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in Uzbekistan

3. The Incorporation of ESD in Higher Education and Teacher Training Institutions in Uzbekistan

3.1. ESD Implementation in Higher Education 

3.2. ESD Implementation in Teacher Training Institutions 

4. Challenges and Recommendations 

5. Conclusion

6. References

7. About the Author

1.     Introduction

Education for sustainable development (ESD), its implementation and its efficiency to build sustainable communities, is a major concern for researchers and policymakers. The announcement of 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) by the United Nations (UN) encouraged worldwide implementation of practices intended to contribute to sustainable development. The central goal of DESD was to facilitate the accomplishment of the Millennium Development Goals and to advance ESD globally (UNESCO, 2009). In 2015, the UN launched the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as an extension of MDGs. However, various controversial opinions arose regarding the concepts of ESD in respect of environmental education (EE), considerations of neoliberal ideology, and, more importantly, contextual differences in use (Jickling and Wals, 2008; Hopwood, Mellor and O’Brien, 2005; Kopnina, 2012). Although authors expressed their worries by claiming that EE’s eco-centric perspective might be deterred with the emergence of ESD, this entry’s argument is grounded on McKeown and Hopkins’ (2003) perspective, which envisions the relationship between the two as healthy and symbiotic. 

UNESCO (2009) highlighted that the integration of ESD in education should be based on the settings and circumstances of each sub-region or country. Uzbekistan (Figure 1) started implementing ESD within its own context in cooperation with international organisations (IOs). This study aims to examine the endeavours to implement ESD in Uzbekistan. The entry focuses on higher education (HE) and teacher training institutions (TTIs), because these stages are efficient ways of disseminating SDGs by preparing future teachers and training current ones. The most challenging aspect of this topic is a research gap on an academic level; therefore, this entry relies on reports and resources of IOs. It serves to fill aninformation gap which can be helpful for students, teachers, and researchers who refer to Uzbekistan.

Figure 1.  The map of Uzbekistan (Retrieved from ).

Figure 1. The map of Uzbekistan (Retrieved from

2. The Role of the Government in the Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s current state of economic transition is facing multiple challenges, but the most salient is the environmental challenge. The Aral Sea catastrophe, one of the worst man-made ecological disasters (Figure 2), has led Uzbekistan to prioritise water policy. Being a double land-locked country, Uzbekistan has to rely on its restricted water resources to support sustainability in agriculture, the backbone of its economy. Therefore, SD became a priority direction in the development of the country and ESD has become one of the significant tools in raising awareness of the emerging environmental challenges.

Figure 2.  The Aral Sea Disaster (Retrieved from: ).

Figure 2. The Aral Sea Disaster (Retrieved from:

As a member of the world community, Uzbekistan embarked on the policy for Sustainable Development (SD) in 1997 by establishing the National Commission for Sustainable Development to achieve the tasks set in the Agenda for the 21stcentury and the World Summit on SD in Johannesburg (Country Profile, 2002). This was followed by the adoption of the ‘State Strategy for Sustainable Development’ in 1999 (Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC), 2009). However, economic and agricultural recessions in the early years of independence caused shortages in funding for SD activities; thus the government relied on the aid of IOs, such as UNESCO, UNDP, and the World Bank (CAREC, 2006).

In 2005, the National Commission for SD and its operational working group was abolished and its functions were allocated to a department in the Cabinet of Ministers. CAREC (2009) also stated that the authorisation of ESD into education systems had a ‘declarative character’, and in fact little was done practically (p. 48). Even though the ‘Concept of Education for Sustainable Development’ was adopted by Uzbekistan in 2011 (Vlek et al., 2017). Azizov (2016) reported that the integration of ESD in the curriculum was partial and not implemented in practice. Furthermore, the term ‘sustainability’ cannot be found in any of the state curricula of primary, secondary or higher education. These curricula may characterise some universal notions of ESD, but they cover only basic knowledge with a limited number of hours. 

3. The Incorporation of ESD in Higher Education and Teacher Training Institutions in Uzbekistan

In Uzbekistan, there are 78 tertiary institutions administered by the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education and 16 teacher training institutions under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Education. The implementation of ESD in HE and TTIs is mainly related to ESD’s environmental dimension. EE is compulsory in all tertiary institutions due to the law on the ‘Nature Protection’ of Uzbekistan in 1992. EE existed long before in higher education curriculum.

3.1. ESD Implementation in Higher Education

There are two examples of integrating ESD at the tertiary level. The first is a partnership between the National University of Uzbekistan and the National Commission of the Republic for UNESCO. In cooperation, they established ‘the Coordination Council for EE and ESD’ which dealt with organising forums and seminars to introduce the goals of ESD, preparing Uzbek translation of multimedia programs for teaching and learning, and creating ESD guidebooks for teachers (UNESCO, 2013). The second is the launch of the UNESCO Chair on ESD at the State University of Urgench in 2011, to promote research, create a database on the subject, prepare and train staff, and establish cooperation between distinguished foreign researchers and the teachers of national universities ‘within the framework of train-the-trainers module’ in the field. (UNESCO, 2013, p. 27). Another major goal of this collaboration was to study and investigate the environmental conditions of the regions surrounding the Aral Sea. 

All regional universities provide bachelor’s courses on Ecology, Environment or Nature, and most technical universities have environmental engineering specialties. However, UNECE (2010) observed that no university curricula has fields of study such as ‘Environmental monitoring’, ‘Environmental Law’ or ‘Environmental Management’ despite being core courses of environmental studies. This is a very critical omission in the curricula, as the majority of specialists working for the government and non-government organisations will have to increase their qualifications by studying abroad. From the given examples, it is apparent that current curricula largely focus on environmental protection, but do not address other concepts of ESD. CAREC (2006) attributed the issue to lack of awareness of university teachers and administration about SD.

By contrast, Azizov (2016) asserted that ESD was partly integrated into subjects of ‘Ecology’ and ‘The Protection of the Environment’ in pedagogical institutions andpointed out that the syllabus included some general ESD notions, such as gender equality, HIV/AIDS prevention, and health. However, ESD’s aim of ‘capacity building’ (Vare and Scott, 2007) of individuals was overlooked by authorities and therefore by most students, and even teachers. 

3.2.ESD Implementation in Teacher Training Institutions

Despite the fact that tertiary institutions have general EE classes, graduating future educators are not well trained to include ESD concepts in their practice. Therefore, training current and early career teachers has become the task of TTIs. However, ESD at TTIs is also still focused on environmental topics (UNECE, 2009). This can be explained in the same way that was mentioned above, in the example of HE.  However, the EE of TTIs is slightly different from HE courses, because the duration of teacher training courses is limited to one month. Thus, the task of training for ESD is an extra load to in-service training courses. As the time frame of training cannot cover complete training of ESD, these courses are mostly restricted to delivering only the basics of ESD within several hours of training. One of the leading TTIs in Tashkent reported that they had only an eight-hour program of ESD training (UNESCO, 2010). Obviously, the integration of ESD in teacher training programmes is not fully applied, but considering the limitation of time, it should not be regarded as unsatisfactory. Rather, policymakers should consider solving the problem in a rational way. 

In general, EE has been the main course both in HE and TTIs. This is completely reasonable from the environmental perspective of the country. However, economy, society, and the environment are inextricably linked to each other. It is impossible to maintain the sustainability of the one without considering the others.  Therefore, maintaining the environmental sustainability will remain a challenge, without addressing social and economic problems in the country. 

4. Challenges and Recommendations

Vlek et al. (2017) pointed out three major challenges in the implementation of ESD: lack of competent trainers, deficiency of ‘networks’ to share experience, and the absence of teaching and learning materials (p. 60). Assimilating the experiences of foreign countries might be one of the possible solutions. For example, establishing an ‘ESD Society’ as a national network for SD in HE, or ‘eco-school programmes’ as an agenda to encourage schools to create their own sustainability programmes, such as in Hungary, would be very effective (UNECE, 2009, p. 35). Moreover, launching a journal of ESD would also enhance communication among researchers and practitioners, and strengthen the dialogue between administrators, scholars, and other benefited stakeholders. However, these are associated mainly with teaching processes. 

There are some other challenges which address a broader scope of ESD. One of the main challenges is to develop a consciousness of sustainability amongst students, teachers, and university staff. The implementation of ESD is not only restricted with the introduction of the subject into the curriculum and textbooks, but it also includes shaping the attitudes and behaviours of people towards SD (UNECE, 2005). It would be more logical to take regular practical actions such as roof gardening, “ditch disposable" campaigns, eco-energy programs, waste management within campuses (which are successfully implemented at the University of Hong Kong). They are very cost-effective and practically viable for most HE institutions.  

The implementation of ESD in formal education has a preliminary character, and legal bases are outdated, mostly reflecting MDGs. Therefore, the concept of ESD should be revised to consider future focal points towards achieving SDGs based on national interests. More emphasis should be directed to monitoring of the implementation. Also, there is a huge gap in awareness between the actors on the top and performers at the bottom. According to Vare and Scott (2007), policymakers regard ESD as a tool for delivering knowledge about SD and the authors expressed their worries against such policy. They pointed out that ESD should be a ‘learning process’, i.e., a bottom-up process in order to be successful (p. 5). Therefore, the government should also pay attention to raising awareness of the people through non-governmental organisations and volunteering groups. There are only a small number of such groups in the country and their activities are limited to specific areas, specifically in the capital only. 

5. Conclusion

Extensive implementation of ESD requires amending curricula, creating new textbooks, training teachers, renovating and modernising school buildings and so forth, which have been an excessive economic burden for the government. However, when financial barriers mount, goals seem unachievable, making the situation even worse. Today, if humanity transgresses the boundaries of the environment, the outcomes will be detrimental to the population of the world. Hence, maintaining the sustainability of the environment, economy and society has become a necessity in each country. The best way to do so is to educate people to live, act and think sustainably by infusing values of sustainability. Education can play a critical role in transformation to sustainability and long-term development in the country. The people of Uzbekistan have already experienced the dire consequences of unsustainable water management and irrigation, such as with the Aral Sea destruction and water crisis. Therefore, there is a need for further consideration of state policy to create efficient and sustainable learning environments at HE systems through combined efforts of stakeholders, community, government officials and international organisations.

6. References

Azizov, A. A. (2016). Оценка действий Республики Узбекистан по внедрению образования в интересах устойчивого развития в систему среднего и среднегоспециального образования [The Assessment of Actions of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in the System of Secondary and Secondary Special Education]. UNESCO Report, Tashkent.  

Country Profile. (2002). Johannesburg Summit 2002. Uzbekistan. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Retrieved from

Hong Kong University Sustainability Office. (2017). HKU Sustainability Report 2015.Retrieved from

Hopwood, B., Mellor, M., & O’Brien, G. (2005). Sustainable Development: Mapping Different Approaches. Sustainable Development. 13, 38-52. doi: 10.1002/sd.244  

Jickling, B., & Wals, A. E. J. (2008). Globalisation and Environmental Education: Looking beyond Sustainable Development. Journal of Curriculum Studies40(1), 1–21.doi: 10.1080/00220270701684667 

Kopnina, H. (2012). Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): The Turn Away from ‘Environment’ in Environmental Education? Environmental Education Research18(5), 699-717. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2012.658028

McKeown, R. & Hopkins, Ch. (2003). EE p ESD: Defusing the Worry. Environmental Education Research, 9(1), 117-128. doi: 10.1080/13504620303469 

National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Sustainable Development (NCSD). (1998). Концепция устойчивого развития Республики Узбекистан [The Conception of Sustainable Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan].Retrieved from

Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC). (2006). Progress Review on Education for Sustainable Development in Central Asia. Almaty. Retrieved from

Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC). (2009). Legal Acts, Programmes and Regulatory Frameworks of Education in the Central Asian Region.Almaty. Retrieved from

The Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialised Education. (2015). Higher Educational Institutions.Retrieved from  

Vare, P. & Scott, W. (2007). Learning for a Change: Exploring the Relationship between Education and Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development1(2), 191-198. doi: 10.1177/097340820700100209

Vlek, P. L. G., Eshchanov, R., Khodjaniyazov, S., Rudenko, I. & Lamers, J. P. A. (2017). From Theory to Practice: Challenges and Constraints to Introducing Education for Sustainable Development in Uzbekistan. In Michelsen, G. & Wells, P. J. (Eds.). A Decade of Progress on Education for Sustainable Development: Reflections from the UNESCO Chairs Programme (pp. 59-65).Paris: UNESCO. 

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). (2005). The UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development.Vilnius. 

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). (2009). Learning from Each Other: The UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development.New York and Geneva. 

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). (2010). Environmental Performance Reviews: Uzbekistan. Second review, 29. New York and Geneva. 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). (2009). Review of Contexts and Structures for Education for Sustainable Development 2009.Paris: UNESCO. 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). (2010). Education for International Understanding through In-service Training: Uzbekistan Experience, EIU Best Practices, 10. APCEIU.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). (2013). UNESCO Country Programming Document for the Republic of Uzbekistan (2014-2017).Tashkent: UNESCO. 

Uzbekistan State World Languages University. (2017, January 24). Education in Uzbekistan to Focus More on Sustainable Development.Retrieved from

About the Author

Khaydarov Sherzod

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Sustainability of Shaman Culture in Oroqen

By Zhao Wunaji

Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. The Oroqen People and Shamanism

3. Cultural Sustainability of Shaman Among the Oroqen

4. Strategies for Preservation

4.1 Redefining Shamanism in Minority Education

4.2 Applying for World Intangible Cultural Heritage

5. Conclusion

6. References

7. Actual Materials

8. Notes

9. About the Author

1. Introduction

The word shaman originates from the Tungus tribe in Siberia. Anthropologists have used this term to refer to spiritual and ceremonial leaders of indigenous cultures worldwide. Shamanism encompasses ancient healing traditions and spiritual practices of these indigenous cultures that determine their way of life, closely intertwined with nature and all of the world’s creatures. 

Shamanism is also an ancient and mysterious part of the original culture of the Oroqen people in China. These days, however, it is on the verge of extinction as the cultural identity of the Oroqen tribe has been weakened due to a decrease in the number of the population, and sinicization or assimilation into the Chinese culture. This entry discusses the historical background of the Oroqen people and shamanism, the sustainability of shaman culture, and the dilemma it is facing. Finally, it puts forward practical and effective strategies for cultural sustainability and rejuvenation of Oroqen shamanism in the new era.

2. The Oroqen People and Shamanism

The Oroqen, also called Orocen or Orochon (or Elunchun in Chinese), traditionallylive in the south of the Heilongjiang (Amur) River in the forests and the rivers of the Lesser and Greater Khingan Range and Ilkhur Moutains of northern Manchuria. The Oroqen is among the smallest of the 56 ethnic minority groups (registered minority groups) in China. According to the demographic data of The Sixth National Population Censusof thePeople’s Republic of Chinain 2010, there are only 8,659 Oroqens in China. The Oroqen people do not have a written language (Noll and Shi, 2004) and today few of them can speak their own native language. 

Shamanism is the earliest religious belief of the Oroqen people. The Oroqens were mainly nomadic hunters who lived by fishing, hunting, and gathering. The shaman ceremonies were often held before hunters went into the forest. They prayed to god to ask for the hunters’ safety and good prey. Shamanceremonies included the presentation of a variety of cultural forms such as folk dance and music, national musical instrument, ballads, handicraft, painting, mythology, literature, and language. All of them represented spiritual, art, and ecological values of this minority eco-culture.

In 1953, the Oroqen people were forced to settle down in ‚’Ethnic Villages’ constructed by the local government at the foot of the mountains. At that time shamanism was still popular among the Oroqen. After the settlement, the influence of Shaman culture started weakening (Noll and Shi, 2004). Due to the implementation of the ban on hunting in 1996, the Oroqenclans could not engage in the traditional forest hunting life, and the associated shamanistic culture started to gradually disappear. Nevertheless, as a nation's traditional culture, it still has a deep influence on the older generation of Oroqens.

After the death of shaman Meng Jinfu, Guan Kouni became the only surviving shamana (Kister, 1999). She was born in the Huma river basin in 1935. When she was 17 years old, she once was badly ill and modern medicinedid not work. Then she practiced the traditional dance to the shaman divine tune and made an amazing recovery. Currently, Guan Kouni lives alone in Baiyinna township. She wanted her daughter to step into her shoes to become a shamana, but ‘the god’s will’ did not seem to agree - her daughter passed away soon after the inheritance ceremony. She has not found a suitable Oroqen as an inheritor, which means that that there will likely be no shaman to save cultural memory, and Oroqen shamanism will belost.

A new generation of Oroqen has no faith in shamanism, as they are either influenced by mainstream religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, and others, or have been sinicized and have become atheists. The primary reason for this is for the Oroqens to join the communist party. Another reason is that the younger generation of Oroqens has hardly seen a shaman and has little knowledge of shamanistic cultures; few have heard about the legends of shamans. Now they only have a surface understanding of shamanism as part of culture, not faith. The days of shamanism as religion belief have passed, and the primitive spiritual sustenance of gods has become history. The language, religion, and culture of this minority is under threat of disappearing; therefore preservation of elements of the cultural group is a pressing issue.

3. Cultural Sustainability of Shamanism among the Oroqen

Culture is included as an important aspect of education for sustainable development. From global perspectives, UNESCO has done a lot of work to prevent the loss of civilizations and cultures, especially of small ethnic minority groups. These actions could protect the diversity of the world to help deal with the current situation of national assimilation. The WCCD ReportOur Creative Diversity (Wilson, 1997), Convention of Protection and Promotion Diversity of Cultural Expressions (UNESCO, 2005) and some other relevant documents have reflected the urgency of protecting cultural diversity.

The Oroqen is a small ethnic minority group in China with hundreds of years of history. Its unique culture helps complete China's national identity, comprised of 56 different ethnicities. For China, protecting shamanismis an important means to maintain cultural sustainability of a small group. In addition, protecting their cultural sustainability is an important means to raise the minority groups’spirituality, identity, language, and self-esteem. There are, however, some challenges for the preservation of the vitality of the shaman culture of the Oroqen. It is urgent for Oroqen clans and people to work to preserve shamanism. The next section discusses some strategies.

4. Strategies for Preservation

4.1. Redefining Shamanism in Minority Education 

Sustainability as a common goal for development requires actors to find ways to improve quality of life without damaging the environment or passing problems to people in other parts of the world or to future generations. To confront challenges for the sustainable future of humanity, education of the younger generations holds a pivotal position amidst other strategies (Kwo, 2011). Modern Oroqen minority education plays an invaluable role in the sustainable development of shaman culture. The Chinese Government has issued a series of education policies at different levels for grooming exceptional Oroqens to preserve and revitalize the vibrant culture of Oroqen. However, there are still some sensitive issues of Oroqen minority education that should not be ignored. 

When the Oroqen clan encountered modern civilization, the younger Oroqen generation accepted modern education. From the perspective of science, demands for eradicating shamanism have become more and more strident. In the context of cultural assimilation, the concept of shamanism as a faith has been question and relegated to the realm of superstition.  To develop shaman cultures in minority education, we need to redefine shamanism in minority education.

First, we should put emphasis on the definition that shamanism is a natural theology that builds a close relationship between science and religion. In addition to this, shaman culture should be emphasized as a folk art, which is in need of recording in national course construction in relevant colleges and universities. This field should be explored further, and more research should be done to facilitate future studies. Thus far, the cultures of small ethnic minority groups have not drawn enough attentions from academia. The number of majors related to minority cultures at Chinese universities is very small. Only Central University for Nationalities, Hebei Normal University, Nanjing University, Southeast University, Zhongshan University, and a few others have any courses related to folk art (Shanshan, 2014). Furthermore a focus on shaman culture study is absent. 

4.2. Applying for World Intangible Cultural Heritage

Stefano, Davis, and Corsane (2012) point out that intangible cultural heritage can represent nearly everything to some extent, including the immaterial elements that influence and surround all human activity. At present, the Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage Directory has included Oroqen shamanism to some extent, but for further preservation, it is not enough. The Oroqen clan is sparsely populated and their ancient shaman culture is in need of protection from international perspectives. If the Oroqen shaman culture can gain WorldIntangible Cultural Heritage status, this can fuel relevant academic research, government investment, cultural protection, promotion in mass media, and the construction of ethnic eco- tourism villages which can be conducive to the continuation of Oroqen shaman culture. At local, national, and global levels, the pressures for change should be centered around issues of equity in respect for cultural heritage, which is far beyond sector concerns for environmental protection and economic growth (Kwo, 2011).

There are a few mentions of the urgency to include shaman culture in the 429 World Intangible Cultural Heritage list. There are eight cultures that are on the list that are influenced by shamanistic cultures, threeoin China.For example, the Pansori originated in south-west Korea in the 17th century, probably as a new expression of the narrative songs of shamans. The annual Gangneung Danoje Festival in South Korea includes a shamanistic ritual on the Daegwallyeong Ridge. Mak Yong, an ancient theatre form created by Malaysia’s Malay communities, is also associated with rituals in which shamans attempt to heal through songs, trance-dance, and spirit possession. Ancient practices in the Boysun District located in south-eastern Uzbekistan are still often used to conduct shamanistic rituals to cure the sick. Nha Nhac in Vietnam provide a means of communication with and paying tribute to the gods and kings as well as transmitting knowledge about nature and the universe (UNESCO, 2008). In China, Yimakan storytelling in the Hezhen ethnic minority group of north-east China preserves traditional knowledge of shamanic rituals, fishing, and hunting (UNESCO, 2008). The Humai ethnic minority group in Mongolia has as part of its culturesinging usually done by shamanas. Manas in the Kirgiz ethnic minority group showe various shaman customs before they formed a new belief in Islam. 

5. Conclusion 

This entry has observed the disappearance of shamanism and its relevance, in relation to the potential extinction of a cultural group. Understanding the importance of preservation of this culture has a potentially far-reaching effect as it would lay down a platform for cultural preservation of dozens of other small ethnic minorities which are integral to the cultural makeup of world civilization. 

6. References

Kwo, O. (2011). Strategic Dialectic Action for Teacher Education in ESD: A Framework for a UNESCO-led Leadership Force. Hong Kong, The University of Hong Kong.

Kister, D. (1999). Present-day Shamanism in Northern China and the Amur Region. Shaman,7.77-95.

Noll, R., & Shi, K. (2004). Chuonnasuan (Meng Jin Fu) - The Last Shaman of the Oroqen of Northeast China. Journal of Korean Religions6. 135-162.

Shanshan, W. (2014). Research on Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage in China.Jinan, China: Qilu University of Technology. 

Stefano, M., Davis, P., & Corsane, G. (2012). Touching the Intangible: An introduction. Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, 1-8.

UNESCO. (2005). Convention of Protection and Promotion Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Paris: The Author.

The Population Census Office of the State Council. (2010). The Sixth National Population Census of the People’s Republic of China in 2010.Retrieved from

Wilson, R. A. (1997). World Commission on Culture and Development (1995). Our Creative Diversity. Paris: UNESCO.

Xiaoyun, G., & Honggang, W. (1998). Elunchun zu saman jiao diaocha [A Study of Oroqen Shamanism]. Shenyang, China: Liaoning People’s Publishing House.

About the Author

Zhao Wunaji

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Cross-Border Schooling in Hong Kong

By XU Tongling

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction

2.    Background

3.    Impacts on the Education Systems in Hong Kong

4.    Challenges faced by Cross-Border Students

5.    Discussion and Recommendations

6.    References

7.    About the author 

1.    Introduction

Children of mainland Chinese parents born in Hong Kong are legally granted permanent residency which entitles them to abode in Hong Kong and social benefits. Since 2003 an influx of pregnant women from Mainland China giving birth in Hong Kong has increased. This has led to much debate primarily focusing on the local health care system and implications for the broader social services system. In particular, the impact on the education system is also of significance. This entry discusses issues and implications of cross-border schooling in Hong Kong.

2.    Background

In the context of Hong Kong, after its return to China in 1997, people from Mainland started noticing the benefits of giving birth in Hong Kong, such as freedom from the one-child policy and support from a relatively more generous social welfare system, both of which are argued to contribute to the phenomenon. In 1979, the Chinese government introduced the one-child policy, with the intention to reduce the rapidly growing population by limiting Chinese to only one child (Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 1995). However, traditionally in Chinese culture, parents preferred several children to increase and ensure support for the household and to continue family lineage. Since the policy was applied only in Mainland China, Hong Kong was an ideal nearby destination for giving birth for families who wanted more children. In addition, these children are born with permanent residency which entitles them to abode in Hong Kong and access to its social benefits such as free education and subsided health care. 

Director of Immigration v. Chong Fung Yuenin 2001 acknowledged that children born in Hong Kong should be given permanent residency regardless of the status of their parents, while the Individual Visit Scheme allows mainlanders to visit Hong Kong on an individual basis with less restrictions than earlier. In 1997, the total number of babies born in Hong Kong to Mainland women was 5,830 (9.8% of total births) which increased to 10,128 in 2003 (45.4%), and more than tripled to 37,253 in 2009 (45.4%)(Yam, 2011). This phenomenon has had a strong impact on many aspects of the Hong Kong social system. The influx increased the burden on the health care system and caused a shortage of baby products and obstetric resources (e.g., maternity beds, qualified midwives, and specialist obstetricians) (Yam, 2011). This resulted in criticism and stigmatisation and exacerbated tensions between Hong Kong and Mainland China in the post-handover era. Due to public pressures, the local government suggested that all public and private hospitals should stop accepting non-local pregnant women's delivery bookings from 2013, thus banning Mainland mothers from giving birth in Hong Kong. This decision became known as the ‘Zero-quota Policy’ (GOVHK, 2012a). As a result, the number of babies born to Mainland mothers in Hong Kong dropped dramatically.

3.    Impact on the Education System in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s high-quality education also plays a role in the decision of Mainland parents to give birth across the border. According to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (CSD), high quality education was the most decisive factoraccording to Mainland parents (CSD, 2011). The perception that Hong Kong has a better education system than Mainland possibly could be explained by three reasons. 

First, teaching in Hong Kong is more student-oriented. Teachers respect and encourage students’ individuality, curiosity, and creativity rather than diminishing them (Huang, 2017). Second, due to its colonial history and status as an international city, Hong Kong has its own unique multilingual and multi-cultural advantages in education. Learning in an environment with three languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, and English) and studying with peers from different cultural backgrounds develop students’ multilingual competencies and foster a sense of global citizenship. Third, Hong Kong is seen as a good stepping-stone for students to study overseas or emigrate to the US and UK. The qualifications students receive in Hong Kong secondary education (e.g., the DSE, A-level, AP, and IB) are all widely accepted by higher education systems in many countries in the world (Hong Kong Examinationsand Assessment Authority, 2015). However, the situation is different for the equivalent qualifications received in Mainland. 

The recent decrease in birth rate in the past years has caused many schools in Hong Kong to face the risk of closure and the threat of unemployment for many teachers. It is argued that the situation could be possibly moderated by the increase of cross-border education. However, such school-aged children mainly targeted schools in districts near the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, which largely aggravates the competitive situation of school enrolment where limited school places in these areas fail to meet the growing demand. Recently, a primary school in the same district received more than 300 applications for 15 seats in Primary 1 (Ming Pao, 2017). The growing competitiveness of school place increases cross-district schooling of local children. In some cases, local students were allocated to schools which are more than thirty minutes away by train instead of just five minutes’ walk from home (Zhao, 2016). It is reported that 145 children living in North District were allocated to distant districts in 2012, which increased to more than 200 in 2016 (GOVHK, 2012b; Zhao, 2016). 

The increase of cross-border school-children not only adds pressure to local education systems but also threatens local schools’ sustainable development. In order to keep up with the influx and relieve the burden of targeted districts, local authorities issued some measures and policies. For example, in the North District several new schools were built and existing schools enlarged class size, opened more classes, and converted rooms originally built for other purposes into new classrooms to meet the greater demand (GOVHK, 2012b, 2013a). Locals are concerned that these measures only alleviate the demanding situation in the short-term without solving long-term implications. Additionally, parents worry that a larger class size increases pressures and workloads onto teachers which may in turn affect education quality and children’s development (Sing Tao Daily, 2013a, 2013b). A drop in student enrolment is expected in 2019 and a gradual decline of students afterwards. Thus, newly-built schools, expanded classrooms, and increased number of teachers will become unnecessary. This situation is exacerbated by the low birth rate in Hong Kong. As a result, many schools will be at risk of closure and teachers – at risk of unemployment. 

4.    Challenges Faced by Cross-Border Students

Cross-border students are often criticised for unduly benefitting from the Hong Kong welfare system. However, they face challenges in using these resources. As their families are often based in Shenzhen, the children have to cross the border to attend school in Hong Kong every day by taking coaches, nanny buses, or public transportation mostly without their parents’ company, which exposes them to dangers of traffic accidents and crimes (GOVHK, 2011). In addition to safety issues posed, cross-border schooling raises concerns about the growth and academic development of students. Daily cross-border travelling is time- and energy-consuming— often taking up to three hours. The children spend significantly more time on the road than their peers who study in Shenzhen and/or are based in Hong Kong, which results in less time for sleep, family communication, and social activities (Lam, 2015). This has been seen to fuel disengagement in studies and hinder healthy growth and holistic academic development. 

In 2013, the local government introduced a new policy on school allocation, specifically targeting cross-border school-children. These children will be allocated within a ‘school net’ which consists of 3,000 places from 122 schools in 8 districts across Hong Kong, and near-by school allocation was prioritised for local children (GOVHK, 2013b; Zhao, 2016). As a result, rather than clustered in certain districts, cross-border children were allocated sporadically in various districts, some of which are further away from the border (Zhao, 2016). This made some cross-border children’s daily-commute to school even longer and more burdening than before. Furthermore, lack of sufficient language skills and overall understandings of Hong Kong’s culture posed many difficulties for cross-border children to socially integrate to the local communities (Lam, 2015). Differences in culture and values between the two sides make it harder for these children to form their identities and values. 

Having experienced that cross-border schooling is not as beneficial as expected and even exhausting, many parents expressed strong wishes to transfer their children to schools in Mainland. However, due to the status as Hong Kong permanent residents these children cannot have Mainland household registration. Absence of Mainland registration means that they do not have access to public education resources in Mainland China even though they are born to Mainland Chinese parents. Although private schooling in Shenzhen is an option to ‘rescue’ these children from the ‘mire’, not all families can afford the high tuition fees (Su, 2017). In April 2013, Shenzhen government announced that local public schools will start accepting students from Hong Kong and Macau on an accumulated point basis (Su, 2017). Although this is an improvement, the extent to which public education is available remains restricted. Parents also expressed concerns and hesitations as policies for public education at higher levels remain unclear (Su, 2017).

5.    Discussion and Recommendations 

In 2015, the United NationsGeneral Assembly adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 4 highlights the need to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education’(United Nations, 2015). Current policies seem ineffective in achieving this goal in the context of Mainland-Hong Kong border. From cross-border students’ perspective, the access to public education in Mainland remains limited to a certain extent. At the same time in Hong Kong, nearby school allocation is prioritised for local students, which makes cross-border schooling more exhausting. This, together with the issues of safety, social and cultural maladaptation, and identity formation, has repercussions for students’ physical, mental, and academic development. 

From a Hong Kong perspective, the influx of new students not only adds pressure to the local education system but also threatens local schools’ development. Limited school availability in certain districts fails to meet the demand, resulting in many local children being burdened with cross-district schooling. School expansion seems to alleviate the demanding situation short-term; however, it leaves abandonment and inefficiency of schools to be a future issue. To achieve the goal of inclusive and equitable quality education, Hong Kong and Mainland authorities need to work together to ensure barriers to access education for all children are removed, while schools and teachers need to build a healthy and inclusive environment to ensure successful learning of their students.

6.     References

Census and Statistics Department (CSD). (2011). Babies Born in Hong Kong to Mainland Women. Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2011, June 15). LCQ10: Cross-boundary Students. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2012a, May 16). LCQ2: Non-local Pregnant Women Giving Birth in Hong Kong. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2012b, June 6). LCQ3: Primary One places in the North District. Retrieved from

GOVHK. (2013a, February 6). LCQ6: Primary One Places in the North District. Retrieved from

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Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. (2015). Recognition of HKDSE Overseas Studies. Retrieved from

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About the Author 

XU Tongling

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Sex Education in China After the Open Door Policy

By Peng Baiwen (Michael)

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction

2.    Before the Open Door Policy

3.    Key Sex Education Policies After Open Door Policy

4.    Problems with Sex Education and Social Consequences After Open Door Policy

5.    Conclusion

6.    References

7.    About the Author

1.    Introduction

The International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action affirms that the path to sustainable development is based on five pillars, one of which is good health with recognition of the centrality of sexual and reproductive health (United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), n/d). In other words, sexual and reproductive health is essential to achieving sustainable development. Sex education, therefore, plays an irreplaceable role in facilitating sustainable development. Sex education, according to Mehlman-Petrzela (2010), is curricula that consist of social hygiene, courtship, marriage, pregnancy, sexuality and contraception, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and other topics. 

This entry focuses on sex education in China with its population of 138 million (National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2016). The entry tracesthe development of China’s sex education from the 1920s to the present day with an emphasis on the period after theOpen Door Policy, which boosted China’s economy to a great extent and imported foreign cultures that liberated people’s minds. Such liberation, which is manifested in liberal attitudes towards sex, became problematic in the context of inadequatesex education (see Li et al., 2009). Itis argued that inadequate sex education is threatening Chinese population and the country’s pursuit of achieving sustainable development (UNFPA, n/d). 

In the following sections, background information is provided on the Open Door Policyand the provisionof sex education before the Open Door Policy. After that, sex education policies after the Open Door Policy, challenges with sex education in the 21stcentury, and resultant social consequences are discussed. By examining sex education in China over the last century and presenting current social problems related to sex education, the author seeks to inspire readers who can then build on this entry and develop means to enhance the current state of sex education in China to facilitate sustainable development.

2.     Before the Open Door Policy

China underwent economic depression during the Cultural Revolution(1966-1975). In response to this, in 1978 China’s Open Door Policy was created (Quach and Anderson, 2008). As an economic policy, by importing foreign technology and sciences, it helped alleviate poverty across the country and provided access to better employment as well as goods and services (Deci, 1996). In addition, improved living conditions were accompanied by the import of an ‘influx’ of foreign cultures (Quach and Anderson, 2005) which demystified sexuality, which was taboo during Culture Revolution (Honig, 2003). This enabled sex education and science to overcome long-standing barriers and keep up with modern times (Zhu et al., 2005).

Sex education in 1920s played a ‘modernizing role,’ as revolutionaries such as Liang Qicha saw it as a means to ‘improve population quality, strengthen the Chinese race and liberate the country from its state of semi-colonialism’ (as cited in Aresu, 2009, p. 533). Knowledge on sex was mainly provided by family (mothers in particular) and schools were used tocomplement family sex education (Liang, 2000). However, despite the lofty goals, sex education at the time was a ‘completely normative fantasy’, because it didn’t trickle down to the general public and remained accessible only to the elite (Aresu, 2009, p. 534). During the 1950s, sex education was recognized as a method to ‘do away with deep-rooted taboos and superstitions’ (Aresu, 2009, p. 535), a change reflected by a speech by Premier Zhou Enlai delivered in 1963. This speech also signified that young people’s interest in sex-related issues was legitimized. However, only a limited number of schools launched sex education curriculum, because of a general attitude to sex as forbidden, and a fear that sex education was a potential threat to young people’s moral integrity (Aresu, 2009; Song, 2010; Yao, 1992). During the Cultural Revolution, discussion of sex was considered ‘bourgeois and hence taboo’ (Honig, 2003, p. 143). In such an atmosphere, there was little room for sex education to flourish, as evidenced by Aresu (2009), who argues that ‘the Cultural Revolution silenced official and unofficial discourses on sex education’ (p. 535).

3.     Key Sex Education Policies After theOpen Door Policy

‘The structure and themes of many sex education discourses [in the 1980s] have resembled aspects of those in the 1920s’ (Aresu, 2009, p. 536), a period of time when, as previously mentioned, sexual knowledge and the science of sex were emphasized. In this period of time, the theme of sex education shifted from birth control (jieyu) which originated from 1950s, to sexual health (xingjiankang) (Zhang, 2015). Zhu et al. (2005) divide policymaking regarding sex education after the Open Door Policy into several stages. The first is 1978-1987, a period when adolescents’ sexual rights were protected and paid attention to, yet sex education was not initiated. The first legislation regarding sex education was the Middle School Syllabus for Physiological Hygiene (Trial Draft)issued in 1978. This syllabus pointed out that emphasis should be placed on puberty hygiene, deferred child birth (wanyu), and family planning. 

The second stage spans from 1988 to 1993. Zhu et al. (2005) argue that in this stage schools were required by law to teach adolescents classes on sex physiology, sex psychology, and sex morality. The emphasis on sex morality was meant to ensure that sex education was employed ‘as a means of maintaining social stability’ (Aresu, 2009, p. 536) at a time when sex-related crimes increased. Aresu (2009) believes that 1988 was a milestone, because in that year ‘preliminary stages of preparation [for sex education] ended’ (p. 537), and two important documents regarding sex education were issued: Notification on the Development of Adolescent Education in the Middle Schoolsand Regulations for Work on Hygiene in Schools. The former required that schools function as the major channel for imparting knowledge about sexuality and that sex education be officially incorporated into the middle school curricula nationwide. Therefore, sex education was formalized and granted an official status. The latter prescribed that knowledge about sexuality be taught in universities. In the following years several other legislation actions were established including Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of the Minors(1990) which laid a legal foundation for sex education in schools (Zhu et al., 2005). According to Zhu et al. (2005) the second stage marks the beginning of the development of sex education policies, one aspect of legislation that had been widely ignored since the Cultural Revolution. However, despite all efforts, there was no clear syllabus for sex education. Also, as Aresu (2009) observes, implementation of sex education was slow, and therefore the goals of the 1988 Notificationwere largely not achieved, which he attributes to ‘a lack of financial resources and little coordination on a national level’ (p. 537).

The next stage as proposed by Aresu (2009) commences in the second half of 1990s, when HIV/AIDS become a public concern. It was estimated that in 2000, there were about 30 thousand Chinese people with AIDS (Kaufman and Jing, 2002). The situation stimulated ‘a more coordinated and systematic development of middle school sex education programmes’ (Aresu, 2009, p. 537). A relevant policies is Medium and Long Term Planning for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control in China (1998~2010)(Zhu et al., 2005). Also, in this period of time, Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Developmentwas issued, which had a great impact on policymaking regarding population issues in China (Zhu et al., 2005). In response to the Program, a milestone law, Population and Family Planning Law of the People's Republic of Chinawas issued in 2002, guaranteeing the rights and possibility of young people to receive sex education (Zhu et al., 2005). In addition, there were two key occasions where specific definitions of ‘comprehensive sex education’ were proposed: The First Asian Academic Conference on Sex Education, and the Sino-British Conference on Sex Education for Adolescents, held in Beijing in August 2001 and February 2002 respectively. However, noticeably, safe sex was not taken as a component of ‘comprehensive sex education’ because self-discipline and sexual morality were emphasized at the time (Aresu, 2009, p. 538).

4.     Problems with Sex Education and Social Consequences After the Open Door Policy

As Song (2015) points out, schools are still reluctant to provide sex education despite the government’s requirement. This is probably because the educational system only places emphasis on curricular subjects that are assessed in entrance exams. Therefore, class time devoted to sex education, as far as entrance exam score is concerned, is useless. In fact, as Lin et al. (2011) argue, sex education in China does not inform students of sex-related issues; instead, it aims to protect young people when they are physically and psychological vulnerable, by teaching only physiological and biological courses. In addition, teachers of these courses are mostly not professionally trained to deliver sex-related courses. These flaws of sex education in China, among others, bring forward negative social consequences: unintended pregnancies (and resulting abortion) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Flaws of China’s sex education are magnified in the post-reform era thanks to rapid economic development and the wide use of the Internet. According to Xu and Cheng (2008) the significant improvement in diet and nutritional status brought about by economic reforms has led to earlier sexual maturation. And this sexual ‘pre-maturation’, as Li et al. (2009) observe, ‘has led adolescents into an earlier exploration of their sexuality through a range of sexuality-related behaviors, including viewing pornography, masturbating, and having their first non-coital and coital sexual contact’ (p. 470). In addition, with the popularity of the Internet, young people have easier access to sexual information than in the past (Li et al., 2009; Song, 2015; Zhang, Li, & Shah, 2007), which accelerates sexual maturation to some extent. 

5.    Conclusion

Sex education in China was emphasized by modernizing elites in the 1920s who saw it as a means to strengthen population health; however, such importance diminished from the 1950s to the late 1970. Noticeably, during the Cultural Revolution, anything related to sex was forbidden from public discussion, with no mention of sex education in schools. In the late 1970s, with the promulgation of the Open Door Policy, the importance of sex education regained attention, although it was not high on the government’s agenda until the late 1990s, when AIDS cases increased rapidly in China. After the Open Door Policy, Chinese society has been undergoing tremendous changes, including changes in attitudes towards sex, improved nutrition, and use of the Internet. Young people now hold a relatively liberal view towards sex and consequently, without proper sex education, more and more cases of sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy are reported. In addition, the Internet contributes to easy access to sexual information. Flawed sex education is threatening Chinese population, whose importance to achieving sustainable development is undeniable (UNFPA, n/d). Therefore, the government and educators should pay more attention to this field and make efforts in teacher education, curriculum reform, etc.

6.    References

Aresu, A. (2009). Sex Education in Modern and Contemporary China: Interrupted Debates Across the Last Century. International Journal of Educational Development, 29(5), 532-541. doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2009.04.010

Deci, Z. (1996). The Open Door Policy and Urban Development in China. Habitat International20(4), 525-529.

Honig, E. (2003). Socialist Sex: The Cultural Revolution Revisited. Modern China, 29(2), 143-175. doi: 10.1177/0097700402250735

Kaufman, J., & Jing, J. (2002). China and AIDS-The Time to Act is Now. Science296(5577), 2339-2340.

Li, L., King, M. E., & Winter, S. (2009). Sexuality Education in China: The Conflict between Reality and Ideology. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 29(4), 469-480. doi: 10.1080/02188790903309066

Liang, J. (2000). Sex Education in the Period of the May-Fourth Movement. The Journal of Shanxi Teachers University, Social Science Edition, 27(3), 89-93.

Lin, S. S., Liu, L., Jiang, L.L. and Huang, X.R. (2011). Six Decades’ Sexuality Education: An Exploration in the Darkness and Embarrassment. Southern People Weekly, 29, 74-76.

Mehlman-Petrzela, N. (2010). Sex Education. In T. C. Hunt & C. James, (Eds.).The Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent(pp. 821-825). SAGE Publications.

National Bureau of Statistics of China. (2016). National Population as of 2016. Retrieved from

Quach, A.S., & Anderson, E. A. (2008). Implications of China's Open-Door Policy for Families: A Family Impact Analysis. Journal of Family Issues29(8), 1089-1103.

Song, S. (2010). Mortality Consequences of the 1959–1961 Great Leap Forward Famine in China: Debilitation, Selection, and Mortality Crossovers. Social Science & Medicine, 71(3), 551-558.

Song, Y. (2015). The Sexuality Education and Attitudes of College Students in China. Health Education, 115(1), 93-104. doi: 10.1108/HE-01-2014-0002

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). (n/d). The Five Themes of Population & Development. Retrieved from

Xu, J., & Cheng, L. (2008). Awareness and Usage of Emergency Contraception among Teenagers Seeking Abortion: A Shanghai Survey. European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 141(2), 143-146. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2008.08.002

Yao, P. (1992). The Study and Practice of Adolescent Sex Education in China. Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Papers, 4, 443-456

Zhang, L., Li, X., & Shah, I. H. (2007). Where do Chinese Adolescents Obtain Knowledge of Sex? Implications for Sex Education in China. Health Education, 107(4), 351-363. doi: 10.1108/09654280710759269

Zhang, Q.H. (2015). Sex Education for Teenagers Since the Establishment of China and Implications. Technology, Economy and Market, 12, 165

Zhu, G.R., Gi, C.Y., Yi,W., & Ma, L. (2005).Review of China’s Policy on Sex Education. Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality, 14(3), 1-15  

About the Author

Peng Baiwen (Michael)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


National Defense Education: Compulsory Conscription Policy in Israel

By MA Yijie

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Background

3. Sustainable Impacts

4. Unsustainable Impacts

5. Discussion and Conclusion

6. References

 1.     Introduction

National defense education has various names and forms in different countries as it targets citizens of different gender and age groups depending on the country’s context and situation. For instance,in Sweden, national defense education ranges from compiling brochures of military thought to organizing conscription. In China, military training is provided to undergraduate students at the beginning of their university life to cultivate a sense of patriotism and collectivity.In the context of Israel,according to Israeli ‘Defense Service Law’ (Consolidated Version, 5746-1986), all citizens aged 18-29 for men and 18-26 for women, except those who qualify for exemptions, have to enlist in military service. The length of service differs on the basis of gender: 30-36 months for men and 24 months for women. National defense education includes military training and learning of military thought. 

Some exemptions are permitted. For example, people who have a mental health challenge or come from ultra-Orthodox groups do not need to serve in the army. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) does not conscript Arab citizens of Israel who are Muslim or Christian; however, an increasing number of people from these groups choose to volunteer for military service. Many Bedouins enlist on a voluntary basis as well(Kershner, 2012).

From the perspective of the state, this kind of national defense education contributes to national and social development as it strengthens national defense and societal stability (Cohen, 1995). Also, the country believes that military education can cultivate their young citizens’ sense of patriotism and will guarantee their loyalty to the country (Bussel, 2009). From the individual perspective, military training can be seen as education for emergencies which cultivate young people’s quick reaction tosurvive in emergency situations. 

However,sucheducation and compulsory conscription can have negative impacts on macro- and micro-level development of the society. These impacts on national economy, religion, health, and politics are evaluated in this entry. By discussing the nature of defense and national defense education, this policy will be critically evaluated, and recommendations will be provided for the future of the policy.

2.    Background

From the historical perspective, Israel has been a controversial context. The conflicts for territories and between religions (that include the 1948 Israeli war of independence, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 2006 Lebanon War,and others) have not stopped (Sanshez, 2017; Stanton et al., 2012). The wars between Israel and Palestine are the most complicated. The roots of Israeli-Palestine conflicts can be traced back to the late 19thcentury. Migration of Jews from other parts of the world to Palestine started in 1881 led to the increase of Jewish population. This situation created tension between Jews and Palestinians that gradually ratcheted up (Harms and Ferry, 2017). In 1922, under the British mandate, Palestine was divided into two parts: Jewish residence in the west and Palestinian in the east (Harms and Ferry, 2017). As the numbers of Jewish immigrants grew steadily, the UN General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab (Gelvin, 2014). However, the Arab League refused to accept the partition which led to military conflicts between Israel and the Arab countries. The Oslo Accords promoted peace talks between Palestine and Israel during 1993 and 2000 but conflicts never stopped (Gelvin, 2014). 

A key controversial issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is land ownership. From the Israeli perspective, as Jewish people lived in the territory centuries ago but were forced to leave during the occupation by the Roman empire, they now can come back (Gelvin, 2014; Shafir, 1996). Palestinians argue that since the Jewish left the land, they do not have the right to occupy it now (Laqueur andSchueftan, 2016). 

To secure the nation and defend their state fromPalestine and other Arab countries, right after the establishment of Israel in 1948, IDF was founded and given authority to enlist any citizen who met their requirements(Defense Service Law, 1986). From then on, the policy and system of conscription in Israel gradually became compulsory (Defense Service Law, 1986). Nowadays, young people who finish senior high school and qualify must begin their service in the IDF.

3.    Sustainable Impacts

For Israel, the role of national defense education is to ensuresurvival and development of the nation. Since mandatory conscription prepares a powerful reserve force for Israel by providing military education to young citizens, this type of national defense education guarantees higher survival rate in wars which leads to the security and stability of the state and society. After completing the 2 to 3 years’ compulsory service, some soldiers will stay in the army to continue their service based on their test results and their aspirations, while others will go back to civilian life with the premise that they should keep in touch with the departments where they serviced in case of an emergency. Once an emergency takes place, IDF officers call up relevantpeople depending on the nature and scale of the emergency (Al-Qazzaz, 1973). Based on the fact that the state of Israel is a small country with a small population, the compulsory mobilization policy provides it with the core of sustainable development and survival in the world. 

Israel is a melting pot as it is a country of immigrants from different parts of the world with different cultures and religions (Tsameret, 2002). Each year, IDF welcomes compulsory and voluntary soldiers of different religions (Cromwell, 2017) and skin colors, who speak different languages and comefrom different countries. Regardless of their past experience, background, and former political opinions, once they enter the army, they become family members for at least two years. Conscription policy contributes to young soldiers’ sense of collectivity and cultivation of patriotism as they receive military training that contains not only practical skills but military doctrines and thoughts. Suchtraining improves societal stability. From another perspective, as a tourist attraction famous for its biblical remains, tourists are inspired to discover this mysterious country with less worries about their safety, because most citizens are able to provide guidance in an emergency. 

4.    Unsustainable impacts

Through the lens of the state, the nature and functions of compulsory conscription policy seem to benefit the country by making it secure and easier to defend. However, when analyzing its impacts on other aspects, this policy is doing harm to the country’s economy, society, and citizens. Seen thusly, the national defense education is more unsustainable than sustainable. Not enough attention, however, has been paid to the economic dimension of compulsory conscription policy in Israel. On the one hand, this policy provides ‘a sort of hidden tax’ (p. 28) to the government as some soldiers could be earning money in the workplace, but have to be in the army. On the other hand, this situation promotes inequality between soldiers and those who are exempt from military service. Also, citizens lose freedom in choosing their occupationwhich can lead to inefficiency or a waste of national resources. In addition, compulsory conscription calls for large costs for manpower. It may be more sustainable to organize a smaller but more professional voluntary army instead of the current large but less efficient ,conscripted one (Alpher, 2005). 

On the basis of Israeli ‘Defense Service Law’ (Consolidated Version, 5746-1986), no Jewish group can be exempt from military service due to their religious beliefs. However, a special exemption rule is enjoyed by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups (Røislien, 2013) to guarantee their family-centered life style and their full-time Torah study (Lehmann, 2010). The premise is that thoseexemptcan only study in yeshiva (an academy for the advanced study of Jewish texts), substituting for conscription (Stadler, 2009). The exemption ‘saves’ ultra-Orthodox Jewish young people from conscriptionbut at the same time limits their religious lifestyles. This is not sustainable for the development of the religion. 

More broadly,Israel is sometimes considered as an ‘inhuman’ (Redden, 2016; Rudoren, 2015) country with amilitarized character and is criticized by mass media and human rights organizations. On the one hand, the numbers of injuries and deaths in every conflict are shocking, especially for the Palestine side. For example, in 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, more than 1,900 people were killed and 97% of them were Palestinian (Yakovv, 2014). Therefore, Israel is condemned by other countries which call for a peaceful resolution and retraining of combat power to change their behavior (Gold, 2009). On the other hand, training young people to use rifles, making them shoot at others, and instilling military thoughts in them are considered inappropriate, and Israel’s government is condemned for it as these young people get tragically involved in wars (Moskowitz, 2014). 

Orr et al. (1986) conducted a survey in which 225 Israeli students in grade 12 were studied to find out why they were worried about military service after graduation. The results showed three main causes of anxiety. First, as ordinary teenagers, they do not have confidence in performing well in the army, especially when they are going to play important roles. Secondly, since obedience is the duty of soldiers, the youngsters are afraid of being deprived of self-expression. Lastly, fear to failto complete tasks makes them avoid conscription (Orr et al., 1986). Additionally, the length of service is a threat. The ‘Defense Service Law’ (1986) states that a person who fails to fulfill his/her duty will be liable to imprisonment for two years. Although the price is high and IDF makes every effort to prevent this phenomenon, young people make many excuses to escape enlistment(Elran et al., 2016). The country may regard these draft-dodgers as ‘traitors’, but what about the pressure on these young people? If young people have no impetus but are stressed to enter the army, impacts of psychological damage to them will gradually emerge during their individual development process. Trauma after their service is even more alarming. During and after service, when young soldiers are involved in conflicts, physical injuries may occur. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will torture young people in their whole life (Amir and Sol, 1999). Malkinson and Bar-tur (2000) conducted interviews with parents whose sons were killed in service and the results showed that they could hardly recover from losing children. Many families in Israel live with this kind of stressevery day and more will be in the future if this extreme form of national defense education continues.

5.     Discussion and Conclusion

Israel sees mandatory conscription and national defense as protecting itself from other countries’ aggression. The countries that criticize this policy may hold the opinion that instead of appropriate self-defense, Israel starts conflicts and wars. The objective of Israel in this case is to achieve its own goals, one of which is targeted killing of Hamas[1]leaders. However, little if any considerationis given to innocent citizens living in targeted areas. In this case, defense becomes an attack.

Israel benefits from the universal conscription while peoples and countries on the other side suffer from it.From the Israeli perspective, compulsory conscription, as a part of national defense education, is an important aspect in sustainable development of the country. The positive impact for the country is that its national security and societal stability are guaranteed. Besides, during the service, young soldiers gain a sense of patriotism and loyalty to their country. However, voices from both inside and outside the country regard this policy as economically unsustainable, inhumane, and cruel, as many get injured and diein the conflicts and young people get trained to kill others. National defense education and mandatory conscription require more attention, consideration, and examination, to prevent the situation wherein self-defense becomes offense. 

6.     References

Al-Qazzaz, A. (1973). Army and Society in Israel. Pacific Sociological Review, 16(2), 143-165. 

Alpher, Y. (2005). The Strategic Interest: The Conscription Prescription.New York, N.Y.

Amir, M., & Sol, O. (1999). Psychological Impact and Prevalence of Traumatic Events in a Student Sample in Israel: The Effect of Multiple Traumatic Events and Physical Injury. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 12(1), 139-154.

Bussel, A. (2009). Mandatory Military Service Works in Israel. NewsBlaze. Retrieved from

Cohen, S. (1995). The Israel Defense Forces (IDF): From a "People's Army" to a "Professional Military" - Causes and Implications. Armed Forces & Society21(2), 237-254.

Cromwell, C. (2017). The Army is Considered Israel’s Melting Pot. What You Should Know About Israel’s Mandatory Military Service for Men and Women. Retrieved from

Elran, M., Sheffer, G., Eiland, G., Lifshitz, Y., Tamari, D., Gal, R., . . . Bagno-Moldavsky, O. (2016). Military Service in Israel: Challenges and Ramifications. Tel Aviv: Institute for National Security Studies.

Gelvin, J. (2014). The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War. Cambridge University Press.

Gold, D. (2009). The UN Gaza Report: A Substantive Critique. An Expanded Text of Ambassador Dore Gold’s Presentation During an Exchange with Justice Richard Goldstone at Brandeis University on November, 5, 2009. Jerusalem Ctr Public Affairs.

Harms, G., & Ferry, T. (2017). The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A basic Introduction (4th ed.). London: Pluto Press.

Israel Defence Service Law (Consolidated Version), 5746-1986*. (1986).   

Kershner, I. (2012). Israeli Coalition Divided on Military Conscription for Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs. Retrieved from

Laqueur, W., & Schueftan, D. (Eds.). (2016). The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict: Eighth Revised and Updated Edition. Penguin.

Lehmann, D. (2010). Yeshiva Fundamentalism: Piety, Gender, and Resistance in the Ultra-Orthodox World. Sociology of Religion71(4), 486–487.

Malkinson, R., & Bar-tur, L. (2000). The Aging of Grief: Parents' Grieving of Israeli Soldiers. Journal of Personal & Interpersonal Loss, 5(2-3), 247-261.

Moskowitz, J. (2014). The Next Generation of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The Atlantic.Retrieved from

Redden, K. (2016). US Accuses Israel of 'Excessive Use of Force' in Human Rights Report.Ma’an News Agency. Retrieved from

Rudoren, J. (2015). Israeli Soldiers Kill 6 Palestinians in Gaza as West Bank Unrest Grows. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Orr, E., Liran, E., & Meyer, J. (1986). Compulsory Military Service as a Challenge and a Threat: Attitudes of Israeli Twelfth Graders Towards Conscription. Israel Social Science Research

Røislien, H. E. (2013). Religion and Military Conscription. Armed Forces & Society, 39(2), 213-232. doi: 10.1177/0095327X12449429

Sanshez, R. (2017). Israel and its Neighbors: Decades of War. CNN News, International Edition. Retrieved from

Shafir, G. (1996). Land, Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882-1914. Universityof California Press.

Stadler, N. (2009). Yeshiva Fundamentalism: Piety, Gender, and Resistance in the Ultra-Orthodox World. New York University Press.

Stanton, A. L., Ramsamy, E., Seybolt, P. J., & Elliott, C. M. (Eds.). (2012). Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa: An Encyclopedia. SAGE Publications.

Tsameret, T. (2002). The Melting Pot in Israel: The Commission of Inquiry Concerning Education in the Immigrant Camps During the Early Years of the State. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Yakovv, Y. (2014). After 29 Days: Operation Protective Edge by the Numbers. Times of Israel. Retrieved from

About the Author

MA Yijie

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Environmental Philosophy

By XU Wanting

Tables of contents

1. Introduction

2. History of Environmental Philosophy

3. Core Disputes

4. Anthropocentric Reformism

5. Environmental Ethics

6. Radical Ecology

7. Conclusion

1.    Introduction

Suppose that Walt Disney was going to build a ski resort in a wildness area adjacent to a national park, which could produce revenues of millions of dollars and provide hundreds of jobs. Isit acceptable for the government to approve this project at the risk of harming the natural environment? When scientists do animal tests to research new medicine, is it justifiable for animal protectors to rescue them from laboratories? If humans have to choose between killing animals or burning plants for their own survival, should they choose to destroy plants, as animals are viewed as superior to plants? What is the rationale underlying environmental protection activities, for the well-being of this generation, the sustenance of our descendants, and other reasons?

Exploration of answers to thesequestions falls into the sphere of environmental philosophy. Environmental philosophy is the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship between human beings and nature, as well as the value and moral status of the environment and its non-human contents (Brennan andLo, 2010). The history of environmental philosophy is characterized by controversies concerning issues such as global warming, biodiversity, and sustainability. These controversial cases stemming from concrete situations for how we relate to the Earth (Klaver, 2007).

Environmental ethics focuses on the moral status of and relationship between humans and nature. Ethics is a branch of philosophy, so environmental philosophy is a broader concept that covers environmental ethics. Desjardins (2006, p. 20) argues that ‘philosophy insists that we do not remain at the level of normative ethics’ and resolving controversies requires us to ‘examine the values in conflict and the competing factors that underlie the value.’ Brennan (1995)contends that in the third decade of environmental ethics, it is necessary to adopt a broader perspective to research it. Due to some philosophers adopting ‘environmental ethics’ in their early works, ‘environmental ethics’ will also often appear in this entry.

Because environmental philosophy is a big concept, the entry aims to give a basic but inclusive introduction to different influential environmental philosophy theories. Zimmerman (1998)divides environmental philosophy into three categories: anthropocentric reformism, environmental ethics, and radical ecology. This entry will introduce environmental philosophy with reference to this structure. These theories are helpful to improve environmental education as they give different explanations on how human beings should handle their relationship with nature.

2.    History of Environmental Philosophy

Environmental philosophy has a long history in western culture. It can be traced back to the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi, to literature works of romanticism poets and transcendentalists, such as Wordsworth and Thoreau, and to conservation movements led by Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot (Gallagher, 1997). Although many factors contribute to the emergence of environmental philosophy, the 1960s is the critical period for the field to develop as it saw ‘the rapid growth of information concerning a diverse array of environmental ethics, including overpopulation and its relation to poverty and famine, the depletion of non-renewable resources, and the harmful effects to human and non-human by chemical pollutants’ (De Laplante, 2006, p. 52). Other events such as the Great Smog of 1952 in London and the Japan minamata disease in 1956 also evoked public environmental-protection consciousness. All these environmental problems prompted human beings to reflect on the relationship between human beings and nature.

In the 1960s, groundbreaking academic works were published, influential environmental movements were organized, and some policy reforms started taking place. Rachel Carson’s best-selling book Silent Spring was published in 1962, and Lynn White’s article The Historical Root of Our Ecological Crisiswas published in 1967. Numerous NGOs, like Sierra Club, which sued Disney for intending to build an entertainment resort in wilderness, were established and supported by citizens. Governments were forced to develop legislation to respond to environmental issues, such as, for example, the UK passing Clean Air Act in 1956 as a reaction to the Great Smog (Gallagher, 1997).

3.    Core Disputes

De Laplante (2006) summarizes two major sets of questions that divide the academic community on the subject of environmental philosophy:

(1)  Do human beings have moral obligations to protect or preserve the natural environment? If so, what are they, and to whom, or what, are they owned? How are such obligations justified?

(2)  What are the root causes of contemporary attitudes and practices with respect to the natural environment, and how can we change them? (p. 48)

Answers to the first set of questions effectively define the field of ‘environmental ethics.’ It is within the context of these questions that students are introduced to the important distinction between anthropocentric and non-anthropocentric approaches to ground the moral obligations towards the environment. Answers to the second set of questions effectively define the field known as ‘radical ecology’ introduced in Section 6.

At the heart of the first set of questions lies the debate about whether nature has ‘instrumental value’ or ‘intrinsic value.’ ‘Instrumental value’ means that the existence of the environment is only for human beings’ interests. On the contrary, ‘intrinsic value’ refers to how the environment ought to be regarded as worthy of respect rather than merely useful. Those who support the intrinsic-value argument hold that humans do not have the right to define the value inherently existing in natural objects. The environment has value beyond satisfying human aims (Palmer, McShane, and Sandler, 2014). This debate is important, because things of intrinsic value deserve moral concern. For instance, although people in persistent vegetative states cannot speak or move, as long as we recognize they have intrinsic value, they still should be treated with moral concern. ‘The intrinsic value associated with life forms the foundation of an environmental ethic, enabling us to recognize nature’s moral importance’ (Agar, 2001, p. 2). Whether the environment has intrinsic value or not determinesthe way human beings act.

4. Anthropocentric Reformism

Anthropocentrism believes that humans are the most significant entity in the Universe.Thus, nature only has instrumental value to us, and all natural resources should be managed to benefit humans even if this aim may be achieved at the expense of the interests of other species (Mazzotta andKline, 1995).

The philosophic root of anthropocentrism can be traced back to ancient Greek philosophy. Aristotle distinguishes three fundamental activities of life based on three standards: nutrition, sensation, and thinking. Aristotle agrees that plants have souls but holds that they do not have sensations and desires (as cited in Sorabji, 1974). Aristotle is criticized by some for his human-centered perspective. Peter Singer points out that Aristotle regards nature as a hierarchy in which those with less reasoning ability only exist for the sake of those with more reasoning (Ducharme, 2014). The Renaissance inthe 14th-16thcenturies also celebrated the value of human beings and pushed human-centered notion to another level. Kant (2011), for example, maintained that only rational beings alone have moral worth.

As early anthropocentrism faced challenges arising from environmental crisis, modern anthropocentrists reformed their theories. American environmental philosophers Borton and botanist Murdy are two representatives of modern anthropocentrism. Norton categorizes anthropocentrism into strong anthropocentrism and weak anthropocentrism, based on ‘felt preference’ and ‘considered preference.’ ‘Felt preference’ refers to need-oriented or desire-oriented choices made by human without any consideration of possible consequences, while ‘considered preference’ is made through rational thinking. Norton supports weak anthropocentrism and holds that once this value is adopted, any nature-destructive behavior will be considered immoral. Murdy builds his arguments from the perspective of biological evolution. Referring to Darwinism, he maintains that anthropocentrism is justifiable because human beings have a special place in nature (Wang, 2014).

5.    Environmental Ethics

Environmental Ethics is ultimately about extending moral consideration. When certain objects have intrinsic value, they should be treated with respect for their own sake and their rights should not be overridden without reason. Animal rights advocates strive to extend moral status to animals, bio-centrists to some or the whole biological system, and eco-centrists to the whole ecosystem.

Peter Singer and Tom Reganare two representatives of animal right advocates. Singer’s work, Animal Liberation, has great influence on leaders of modern animal liberation movements. Singer follows utilitarianism from Bentham to analyze this issue. According to utilitarianism, human should maximize happiness and minimize pain. He argues that animals’ ability to suffer is one of the reasons why we should care about them. Singer does not seek granting equal human rights to animals, but he holds that they deserve equal moral consideration (Singer, 2002). Tom Regan criticizes utilitarianism, because maximum happiness may only benefit someone at the expense of pain of others. Everyone is the experiencing subject of life and thus has intrinsic value (Regan, 1987).

Biocentrism is founded on Darwin’s theories, and ecocentrism originates from Aldo Leopold’s land ethics (Mazzotta and Kline, 1995). Biocentrism presumes that we should include all individual living entities in our moral considerations. Biocentrists hold that all living things have an instinct to survive and keep wholeness of life (Sarkar, 2012). Taylor, a representative scholar of biocentrism, insists on ‘life-principle.’ All living objects have the desire to survive, so those with life deserves moral concern. Taylor (1981) holds that humans do not have responsibilities towards rivers as those we have toward fish and plants. Eco-centrism goes further to defend the interests of non-biological objects such as rocks, mountains and rivers in the sphere (Sarkar, 2012). Eco-centrists emphasize the interconnection among different natural elements. They maintain that the value of different eco-elements is granted by nature, not humans. A major representative of eco-centrism is Aldo Leopold. In his book ASand CountyAlmanac, Leopold (2001) holds that land is not the property of human. Rather, it is a community including soils, waters, plants, and animals. Another influential philosopher is Holmes Rolston (1988) who develops Land Ethics into a system. He believes all animate lives interact, so any species that exists in the evolving history is an important part of a generic lineage.   

6. Radical Ecology

Zimmerman’s third category includes deep ecology, social ecology, and ecofeminism.  These theories are “radical” because they maintain they have found the origin of environmental problems, and they try to promote social changes and paradigm shifts accordingly(Mazzotta andKline, 1995).

In 1972, Naess coined the terms ‘deep ecology’ and ‘shallow ecology’ to juxtapose what he regarded as two opposing approaches for problematizing and responding to the ecological crisis. The objective of the shallow ecology movement is only to fight against pollution and resource depletion. But deep ecology supports biospherical egalitarianism and defends local autonomy and decentralization (Naess, 1973). Deep ecology seeks to recognise the underlying and co-evolving causes of ecocultural unsustainability, while shallow ecology demand more modest reforms. Shallow education treats the symptoms of ecocultural unsustainability, but leaves the underlying causal structure unchanged (Glasser, 2011). Naess’s work characterizes deep ecology as an international, grassroots social and political movement. He believes that human should go beyond their ‘ego’ and ‘self’ in society to form an ‘ecological self.’ The ultimate aim of environmental protection is for humans’ self-actualization.

Social ecologists explore hierarchy and domination in culture, and ecofeminists criticize the patriarchy in these hierarchies (Kheel, 1991).Spretnak (1990) maintains that culture is both the problem and the solution, both the curse and the hope. Bookchin (2007), the founder of social ecology, holds that ecological problems stem from social problems. The fundamental reason is the anti-ecological tendency in social economy, politics and culture. Tackling all these problems must depend on social movements. The capitalist system is immoral for it develops at all costs. Warren (1990), an influential ecofeminist, points out that there are historical, symbolic and theoretical connections between the domination of women and the domination of nature. Women and nature give birth to and take care of lives, but both of them suffer from oppression. Ecofeminists believe there is a conceptual framework behind that. Ecofeminism holds that the dynamics behind the dominance of male over female are the key to comprehending every expression of patriarchal culture with its hierarchical, militaristic, mechanistic, and industrialist forms. ‘A feminist ethics must be anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-classist, anti-naturist and opposed to any "ism" which presupposes or advances a logic of domination’ (p. 139). They advocate that women should play an important role in environmental movements because in this way they are fighting against the very root leading to oppression of nature and women.

7.    Conclusion

In summary, environmental philosophy, which is a broad concept that covers ‘environmental ethics’, studies the moral status of and the relationship among humans, nature and the environment. Environmental philosophy stepped into the spotlight in 1960s as many natural crises prompted people to reflect on it at that time. According to the subjects that deserve moral concern and the reasons why people should care about these subjects, Zimmerman (1998) categories related theories into three kinds: anthropocentric reformism, environmental ethics, and radical ecology. 

Anthropocentric reformism ultimately believes that the benefit of human beings is the only criterion for taking action. Environmental ethics extends moral concern to animals, organismor even the whole ecological system.Radicalecologyholds that only by eradicating oppression rooted in the culture can we achieve bio-spherical egalitarianism. These theories are the bases for different attitudestowards nature. For better addressing the environmental issue, it is important to understand rationales behind people’s behaviors.

8.    References 

Agar, N. (2001). Life's Intrinsic Value: Science, Ethics, and Nature. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bookchin, M. (2007). Social Ecology and Communalism. Edinburgh: AK Press.

Brennan, A. (ed.). (1995). The Ethics of theEnvironment.Hants: Dartmouth.

Brennan, A., & Lo, Y. (2010). Understanding Environmental Philosophy. Durham: Acumen.

De Laplante, K. (2006). Can You Teach Environmental Philosophy Without Being an 

Environmentalist. InPalmer, C. (Ed.), Teaching Environmental Ethics (pp. 48-62). Boston: Brill.

DesJardins, J. (2006). Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy (4th ed.). Belmont, CL.: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Ducharme, A. (2014). Aristotle and the Dominion of Nature. Environmental Ethics36(2), 203-214.

Gallagher, C. L. (1997). The Movement to Create an Environmental Bill of Rights: From Earth Day, 1970 to the Present. Fordham Environmental Law Journal9(1), 107-154. 

Glasser, H. (2011). Naess's Deep Ecology: Implications for the Human Prospect and Challenges for the Future. Inquiry, 54(1), 52-77

Kant, I. (2011). Rational Beings Alone Have Moral Worth. Food Ethics, 10-12.

Kheel, M. (1991).Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology: Reflections on Identity and Difference. Trumpeter8(2).

Klaver, I. J. (2007). The Future of Environmental Philosophy. Ethics & the Environment12(2), 128-130.

Leopold, A. (2001). A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation. New York (NY): Oxford University Press.

Mazzotta, M., & Kline, J. (1995).Environmental Philosophy and the Concept of Nonuse Value. Land Economics, 71(2), 244-249. 

Naess, A. (1973). The Shallow and the Deep, Long-range Ecology Movement. A Summary, Inquiry16, pp. 95–100. 

Palmer, C. (2006). Teaching Environmental Ethics. Boston: Brill.

Palmer, C., McShane, K., and Sandler, R. (2014). Environmental Ethics. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 39, 419-442.

Regan, T. (1987). The Case for Animal Rights. Advances in Animal Welfare Science 1986/87. 179-189. 

Rolston, H. (1988). Environmental Ethics: Duties to and Values in the Natural World (Ethics and action). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.                                 

Sarkar, S. (2012). Environmental Philosophy: From Theory to Practice. John Wiley & Sons.

Singer, P. (2002). Animal Liberation (1st Ecco pbk. ed.). New York (NY): Ecco.                        

Sorabji, R. (1974). Body and Soul in Aristotle. Philosophy49(187), 63-89. 

Spretnak, C. (1990). Ecofeminism: Our Roots and Flowering. Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism, 3-14.

Taylor, P. W. (1981). The Ethics of Respect for Nature. Environmental Ethics3(3), 197-218.

Wang Z. (2014). Environmental Philosophy - Environmental Ethics Interdisciplinary research (2nd ed.). (In Chinese). Shanghai: Shanghai Educational Press. 

Warren, K. (1990). The power and the Promise of Ecological Feminism. Environmental Ethics, 12(2), 125.

Zimmerman, M., & Callicott, J. (1998). Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 

About the Author

XU Wanting

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Walkability in Hong Kong

By Wu Wenxi

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction

2.    Policies Related to Walkability

3.    Walkability Prospects and Issues in Hong Kong

3.1.   Central District on Hong Kong Island

3.2.   Mong Kok on Kowloon Peninsula

3.3.   Residential Area in New Territories

4.    Education and Public Engagement

5.    Conclusion

6.    References

7.    Appendix

8.    About the Author

1.    Introduction

Walking is a major activity in most people’s urban experience. In response to the environmental challenges resulting from increased population density and overdependence on cars, the idea of walkability has been increasingly advocated in urban planning. The term ‘walkability’ can be defined as a measure of ‘the extent to which walking is readily available as a safe, connected, accessible and pleasant mode of transport’ (Albey, 2005, p. 2). The conditions of security, mobility, convenience, comfort, and enjoyment are widely recognised as core elements of what makes urban space walkable (Gehl, 2006; Katarzyna, Piotr, and Michal, 2017; Speck, 2012). On the level of social inclusiveness, walkability also relates to traveling experience of wheelchair users and other groups with mobility challenges (Lo, 2009).

Pedestrian activity has a wide range of benefits for the environment and people’s wellbeing. It allows more people to reach their destinations within walking distance, which reduces traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution. A proper amount of daily walking can lower many health risks induced by today’s sedentary lifestyle, including obesity, diabetes (Casagrande, 2009), and cardio-vascular diseases (Lovasi, 2006). It also has a positive impact on people’s mental health, such as reducing stress and maintaining cognitive levels for the elderly (Weuve et al., 2004). Moreover, walking has a ‘social and recreational value’ (Southworth, 2005, p. 246) by creating more opportunities for interpersonal interaction and outdoor leisure. 

The emphasis on walkability reflects a people-centred mentality in today’s urban planning. It challenges the previous focus on ‘high-speed routes’ and ‘car communication’ (Katarzyna et al., 2017, p. 224), which has compromised pedestrians’ usage of public space and caused problems for the environment and people’s lives. ‘Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ is promulgated by the United Nations as Sustainable Development Goal 11. The goal targets emphasise raising the level of human wellbeing by ensuring safety, accessibility, connectivity, and social interaction for all people, and the promotion of walkability in the city can be one practical way to help achieve these targets.

According to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat, 2016), Hong Kong has been leading the ‘cultural shift away from auto-dependency’ towards a sustainable mode of development ‘oriented to transit, walking and cycling’ (pp. 39-40). With 33% of its land allocated for streets, which is the highest in the world (UN-Habitat, 2013), pedestrian mobility is meaningful to the city’s long-term prosperity. This entry will introduce key policies and typical practices for walkability in Hong Kong and will contribute to the outreach of public education about the impact of this issue on the city’s overall sustainable development.

2.    Policies Related to Walkability

In Hong Kong strategic urban planning has a history of development since the 1970s. Before Hong Kong’s reunification with China, a series of governmental reports were produced. Those early plans had made significant recommendations on city zoning, accommodation for a dense population, and transportation networks. However, it was not until the issuance of the Territorial Development Strategy Reviewin 1996 that environmental factors were taken into serious consideration, shifting the guideline from the ‘land use-transport duo’ to a ‘land use-transport-environment trio’ (Planning Dept., 2007, p. 4).

In 2006, the Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government embarked on a decennial study on strategic planning, Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy, with ‘sustainable development as its overarching goal’ (Planning Dept., 2007, p. 111). The study called attention to the importance of ‘the provision of comfortable, safe and interesting pedestrian environments’ (p. 28) and highlighted ‘reliance on walking and cycling for short distance travel’ (p. 113) as future directions. A key measure is to encourage mixed-use development, which integrates residential, commercial, and social usages in the area to shorten commute distance. Other measures include building weather-proof infrastructure and pedestrian-aid facilities (pp. 156-157).

A decade later, the Planning Department launched a follow-up study, Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030, scheduled to be completed in 2018. In a recent report, there are many recommendations focused on walkability, now regarded as ‘a key element for sustainable cities’ (Planning Dept. 2016, p. 21). Specifically, the government will continue endorsing mixed-used, integrated walkways to decrease motorised transport. The report recommends measures to remove intruding roadside structures, redesign unnecessary changes of routes, widen over-narrow streets, and add greenery and seating to make the pedestrian environment ‘safe, inviting, and accessible’ (pp. 21-22). The report also underlines walkability to suit the needs of different groups of people, such as vehicle-free paths for school children and barrier-free paths for the elderly and disabled (p. 27).

3.    Walkability Prospects and Issues in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is geographically divided into Hong Kong Island, Kowloon Peninsula, and the New Territories, each of which shows different levels of walkability because of their unique landscape and ways of development. The following section will introduce the walking conditions in typical locations in these areas.

3.1.  Central District on Hong Kong Island

Central is the central business district of Hong Kong, located on Hong Kong Island. The area is characterised by numerous skyscrapers that carve the city’s modern skyline. On the reclaimed land towards the harbour, footbridges can easily take the pedestrians to plazas and waterfront promenades. Up towards Des Voeux Road Central and Queen’s Road Central, there are steep slopes and spiral lanes with a diversity of shops and good linkage to public transport. 

According to a study led by the non-profit public policy think tank Civic Exchange in 2012 (Ng et al., 2012), there is a challenge of crowdedness and conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, yet the proximity to the MTR network as well as the northern and southern stretches of elevated walkways have resolved the problem to some extent. However, wayfinding and crossing at-grade are difficult in some places, and more greenery and seating are needed.

In 2016, the research group conducted another study that measured the level of walkability in Central between Connaught Road Central and Queen’s Road Central. The result shows that the area scored highly in terms of ‘accessibility and connectivity,’ ‘physical and visual permeability,’ ‘scale and density,’ ‘variety and diversity,’ and ‘transit and pedestrian friendliness’ (Ng et al., 2016, p. 34).  Problems include a shortage of public amenities such as seating and toilets, lack of attractions with local culture, and some safety issues. Overall, the level of walkability in Central is average (Ng et al., 2016). 

3.2.   Mong Kok on Kowloon Peninsula 

Mong Kok represents an old, busy, and dense urban market place. The streets are narrow with heavy traffic and a large population flow. There are numerous small shops and restaurants as well as some large shopping malls such as Langham Place and Argyle Centre. Streets with distinct local features such as Ladies Street and Temple Street have drawn visitors from all places. In the measurement of walkability, Mong Kok scored well in ‘scale and density’ and ‘variety and diversity’ (Ng et al., 2016, p. 35). 

What is lacking, however, is such aspects as safety, connectivity, streetscape, and public amenities. Although there are both underground and elevated walkways, pedestrians often have to take many detours, and these walkways are not clean and interesting to walk in. Some shop frontages are not properly managed, causing obstacles along the street-side and people congestion.  

There seems to be a long-standing ‘dilemma’ that has curbed walkability in Mong Kok, which is how ‘to control overcrowding without losing its charm’ (Ng et al., 2012, p. 82). The large flow of population and compact businesses keep the area alive while also resulting in over-crowdedness, unsightliness, and noise pollution for local residents. Therefore, the overall pedestrian environment in Mong Kok is poor (Ng et al., 2016). 

3.3.   Residential Areas in New Territories

The social and spatial conditions of the New Territories are quite different from the old areas of Hong Kong, and this area has received far less international attention. Cleared of busy markets or layered walkways, the New Territories is built with large-scale residential compounds that are home to around half of the city’s population (Population Census, 2011). Since the area’s urbanisation in the 1960s, the main concern of development has been about networks between residence and public transport. Streets are clearly separated from the vehicular lanes, which has increased the safety and efficiency of walking. 

Despite good connectivity to public transits, walking for social and recreational purposes is quite limited since there is almost no streetscape with small shops or restaurants for people to stroll along, and the cultural characteristics that give people a sense of belonging are rare. Although there are good neighbourhoods such as Upper Ngau Tau Kok, where people can enjoy some public open space with trees, playgrounds, and artworks, these facilities are only found inside residential compounds, cut off by walls from their surroundings, which tend to restrict variety of lifestyles and connection to different cultures (Tieben, 2016). 

4.    Education and Public Engagement

In the field of education for sustainable development (ESD), Vare and Scott (2007) have distinguished between two different but complementary approaches towards sustainable living. One is characterised by facilitating sustainable development by advised behaviours according to expert knowledge (ESD 1), and the other is by critical thinking that examines the feasibility of such knowledge (ESD 2). The combination of the two approaches, which can make ESD both informative and reflective, is manifest in the building process of a walkable city by the Hong Kong SAR Government, joined by many other participants.

The Planning Department has made the City Gallery a key venue for exchanging with the public the ideas in the planning of Hong Kong by thematic exhibitions and workshops. The City Gallery acts as an ‘educational platform’ that provides many programmes targeting at different levels of students and professionals. These include the ‘City Gallery Summer Planning Schools,’ which enrolled 280 primary and secondary school students as ‘city planners’ and invited young colleagues within the Department as tutors (Planning Dept., 2017, p. 83). Significantly, 43% of the group visits to the City Gallery during 2016 were organised by educational institutions (p. 77), and the Department has close ties with the academics for the development and evaluation of planning strategies (p. 73).

In the public sphere, a number of civic groups, such as Civic Exchange and Hong Kong Public Space Initiative, and Designing Hong Kong, have been engaged in improving walkability in the city. In 2015, these groups jointly advanced the proposal of building a bus-free, pedestrian area in Des Voeux Road Central to the Government, which later transformed into the Des Voeux Road Central Initiative. In January 2017, Walk DVRC Ltd. was established as an NGO to focus on vitalising the pedestrian experience in the area. They have been organising various events to enhance community education, which include exhibitions to promote innovative planning concepts and forums to gather different communities to share planning strategies (Walk DVRC Ltd., 2017).

It may be argued that the promotion of walkability in Hong Kong represents a successful combination of ESD 1 and ESD 2 by incorporating the transmission of walkability ideas with active engagement and contribution from diverse communities.

5.    Conclusion

Hong Kong has already achieved excellent connectivity and mobility in terms of public transport, and now the government’s attention has been directed towards improving the pedestrian environment. In Central, more public amenities and cultural displays are advised to be implemented. In Mong Kok, there is a need for wider pavements, reduction of detours, enhancement of sanitation, and better balance between new development and cultural preservation. In the New Territories, the human-oriented development mode should be strengthened and put into practice.

Besides the governmental work, public participation is indispensable. At the Walk21 Conference hosted by Civic Exchange in 2016, Secretary of Transport and Housing Mr. Cheung Bing-Leung stressed that the achievement of walkability must be supported by the citizens’ willingness to accept walking as a natural mode of commute (Yau and Siu, 2016). Therefore, policymakers, schools, businesses, and other social communities may continue working together to promote relevant educational programmes and activities to raise public awareness of the value of walkability on various levels.

6.    References

Albey, S. (2005). Walkability Scoping Paper. New Zealand. Retrieved from

Casagrande, S. S. (2009).Walkability, Healthy Food Availability and the Association with Obesity and Diabetes in Baltimore City, Maryland(PhD dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest.  

Gehl, J. (2006). New City Life(1sted.). Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

Katarzyna, T., Piotr, C., & Michal, J. (2017). The Concept of a Walkable City as an Alternative Form of Urban Mobility. Scientific Journal of Silesian University of Technology. Series Transport, 95, 223-230. doi:10.20858/sjsutst.2017.95.20

Lo, R. H. (2009). Walkability: What Is It? Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 2(2), 145-166. doi:10.1080/17549170903092867

Lovasi, G. S. (2006). Neighborhood Walkability, Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Risk (PhD dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest.  

Ng, S., Lai, C., Liao, P., Lao, M., Lau, W., Govada, S., & Spruijt, W. (2016). Measuring and Improving Walkability in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Civic Exchange. 

Ng, S., Lau, W., Brown, F., Tam, E., Lao, M., & Booth, V. (2012). Walkable City, Living Streets. Hong Kong: Civic Exchange. 

Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Planning Dept.). (2007). Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy. Hong Kong: Planning Department HKSARG. 

Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Planning Dept.). (2016). Planning and Urban Design for a Livable High-density City. Hong Kong: Planning Department HKSARG. 

Planning Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Planning Dept.). (2017). Annual Report 2017. Hong Kong: Planning Department HKSARG. 

Population Census. (2011). Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department HKSARG. Retrieved from

Southworth, M. (2005). Designing the Walkable City. Journal of Urban Planning and Development, 131(4), 246-257. doi: 10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9488(2005)131:4(246)

Speck, J. (2012). Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time(1sted.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Tieben, H. (2016). Public Space Trends in Hong Kong. A View from the New Territories. The Journal of Public Space, 1(1), 25-34. doi:10.5204/jps.v1i1.7

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). (2013). Streets as Public Spaces and Drivers of Urban Prosperity. Nairobi: UN-Habitat. 

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). (2016). Urbanization and Development: Emerging Futures. Nairobi: UN-Habitat. 

Vare, P., & Scott, W. (2007). Learning for a Change: Exploring the Relationship Between Education and Sustainable Development. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 1(2), 191-198. doi:10.1177/097340820700100209 

Walk DVRC Ltd. (2017).Walk DVRC. Hong Kong: Walk DVRC Ltd. Retrieved from

Weuve, J., Kang, J. H., Manson, J. E., Breteler, M. M. B., Ware, J. H., & Grodstein, F. (2004). Physical Activity, Including Walking, and Cognitive Function in Older Women. JAMA, 292(12), 1454-1461. doi:10.1001/jama.292.12.1454

Yau, C., and Siu, P. (2016, October 3). Walk the Talk, Hong Kong Transport Minister Urges Conference on City Walkability. South China Morning Post.

About the Author

Wu Wenxi

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Ending Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting in Somalia

By MA Jun, Carey 

Table of Contents

1.    Introduction 

2.    Understanding FGM/C and its Consequences

2.1.  Rationale

2.2. Complications

3.    Support from Organizations

4.    Challenges

5.    Suggestions

6.    References

7.    About the Author

1.    Introduction                                                      

TheWorld Health Organization(WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have been committed to the eradication of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), a global concern given its violation of human rights of women and girls. FMG/C refers to ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’ (WHO et al., 2008, p. 4), and it can be classified into four types:

Type I: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce (clitoridectomy).

Type II: Partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of the labia majora (excision).

Type III: Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of a covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of the clitoris (infibulation).

Type IV: All other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, for example: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterization. 

Apart from the immediate complications such as hemorrhage and vaginal infection, that are a result of unhygienic conditions and unprofessional operators, there are further complications such as a 25% death rate during childbirth as well as impaired urinary health and infertility (Momoh, 2005). While ongoing efforts over the last three decades have led to an overall decline in the prevalence of FGM/C worldwide, variations in path of decline among countries and the fact that more than 200 million girls and women in 30 countries have undergone FGM/C till now are alarming (UNICEF, 2016b). 

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is most prevalent in the Horn of Africa (Abulkadir, 2011; UNICEF, 2016b), in which Somalia is one of the four countries with a high percentage of girls and women aged 15-49who went through FGM/C (Somalia (98%), Djibouti (93%), Eritrea (83%), Ethiopia (74%)) (UNICEF, 2016b). Somali government has prohibited Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) with clear statement in part of Somali provisional constitution (WHO, 2012). However, only 33% of Somali girls and women aged 15-49 think that the practice should end (UNICEF, 2016b). 

This entry explores the rationale behind the undertaking of FGM/C and complications that arise from it. It also examines the challenges that may arise in the prevention of FGM/C and the current support provided by organizations such as WHO and UNICEF, before finally making recommendations on how to end FGM/C in Somalia. The eradication of female genital mutilation is mentioned as atarget of Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (2015), and these recommendations may help facilitate the global community’s resolution to end FGM/C by 2030 (UNICEF, 2016). 

2.    Understanding FGM/C and its Consequences

2.1. Rationale

Several reasons can be identified that perpetuate FGM/C in Somalia, which might also be found in other countries. They include religion, gender relationships, and social pressure (Momoh, 2005; Abulkadir, 2011; Johnson-Agbakwu, Helm, Killawi & Padela, 2013). Additionally, lasting political chaos in Somalia hinders efforts in legal system and humanitarian aid at the same time (Powell, Ford & Nowrasteh, 2008). 

Religion has always been claimed as one of the reasons perpetuating the practice. No appearance of FGM/C is in the Koran and Muslim religious authorities agree on the sinfulness of all kinds of mutilations (Rouzi, 2013). Yet FGM/C is reported, according to UNICEF (2016a), to be concentrated in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia where Islam plays a dominated role in shaping social traditions and rituals. Asymmetry between biomedical categories and terminologies used in places where these practices are implemented, especially in Islamic countries, when it comes to classification of female genital surgeries, complicated this situation. Also, the double meaning of sunnaas Type I or less extensive operations in local terminology and as normative words, deeds, and traditions of prophet Muhammad in Islamic beliefs (Obermeyer, 1999)fuels its perpetuation. Low levels of education in Somalia further contribute to misunderstanding and abuse, particularly in relation to men’s religious beliefs regarding the practice (Gele, Bø, and Sundby, 2013). As two Somali Imams expressed (Abulkadir, 2011), the continuing practice of FGM/C is more about culture than religion since people do what their ancestors did, and they are not well-educated to stop the harm. 

Gender inequality in societies where FGM/C is practiced is another reason that perpetuates the practice. In areas where FGM/C is common, resection of the clitoris is undertaken to keep women away from their sexual desires before marriage. This is done apparently to preserve virginity, which is regarded as a necessity for women to get married. At the same time, it can amplify men's sexual enjoyment after marriage (Momoh, 2005). According to Abulkadir (2011), a Somali woman who underwent the practice, the government should allow FGM/C to preventgirls from sleeping around, as sexual intercourseafter the practice becomes painful. Ending FGM/C becomes harder when even women support the practice. The inferior status of women in this case can be seen to representthe suppression of women’s rights: the right to protect their own physical health, the right to change inhumane rules, and the right to speak in favor of education and employment for women. 

Social rules that apply to both women and men also contribute to FGM/C. Some older women’s collective acceptance of their inferior position characterizes FGM/C as a sexual symbol of a mature woman, and social norms identify a woman as a tool of procreation (Momoh, 2005). Women’s obedience towards FGM/C affects men’s attitudes as well. For example, Somali men in Oslo stated that they do not agree with the practice because of the complications or trauma it leads to; however, social pressures in Somalia keep perpetuatingit (Geleet al., 2012). Many men choose to follow the practice not to let their mothers down (Johnson-Agbakwu et al., 2013). 

2.2. Complications

FGM/C is referred to as the ‘three feminine sorrows,’ as it causes sorrow when the woman undergoes the practice, when she is cut open on her wedding night, and when she gives birth and is cut again (Fourcroy, 1998, p. 15). In addition to short-term physical health complications such as hemorrhage and pain, survivors endure severe psychological problems such as depression and phobia (Elnashar andAbdelhady, 2007), long-term gynecological problems such as dyspareunia, and psychosexual difficulties such as less sexual pleasure (El-Defrawi et al., 2001).

The psychical harm caused by FGM/C negatively affects possibilities for women to use their rights to play positive supportive roles for themselves, their families and their communities. The use of either mutilationor cutting violates human rights such as ‘the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, the right to life when the procedure results in death, and the right to freedom from torture or cruel’(WHO et al., 2008, p. 9). These rights involve far-ranging domains including cultural, economic, and political and are addressed in many international treaties such as the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rightsand the Convention on the Rights of the Child(WHO et al., 2008, p. 8). FGM/C, along with other controversial trends such as early marriage and human trafficking, hinders women’s access to education, employment, and other possibilities. Somalia’s low female literacy rate (25.8%) and high infant mortality rate (89.8 per 1000 live births) (Susumanet al., 2016)demonstrate how the practice harms two generations when it comes to pushing girls to early marriage and to facing more threats when giving birth. 

3.    Support from Organizations 

Elimination of the practice has been a global concern, especially after 1997, with the joint statement of WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA calling for abandonment of FGM/C (Shetty, 2014). Sustained actions include, but are not limited to, on the ground programs and media campaigns against FGM/C. Tostan (meaning ‘breakthrough’ in the Wolof language) is one inspiring organization leading sustainable programs in Africa. Its model for community-led change, which has had great impact on ending FGM/C and child marriage, by helping girls’ access education and developing community’s economic potentials, is implemented across 6 African countries (Tostan, 2017). Local fighters against FGM/C promote the eradication through engagement in health education with the help from various programs and organizations. 

4.    Challenges

Somalia’s statelessness has hampered the effectiveness and efficiency of its law-enforcement agencies, while decentralized and clan-based social structures in especially rural areas enable independent interpretations and enforcement of the Somali customary law (Powell, Ford, andNowrasteh, 2008). Thus, understanding contexts is a necessity for any well-meaning actions given the potential variations among clans. 

Social rituals, religious beliefs, and gender relationships, which are deeply entrenched in people’s minds, shape people’s behaviors. Common language and clan origins contribute to a cultural homogeneity in Somalia (Morison et al., 2004). Dialogues in the documentary The Day I will Never Forget(Longinotto, 2010) demonstrate attitudes of people who live in the Somali community of Kenya regarding the practice and their cultural traditions. For example:


‘According to our religion, it’s the husband who makes the decisions, not the wife.’

‘In our society, we do not have mutilation. What we have and we still advocate it is female clitoridectomy.’ 


‘I cursed my mom. I said “why did you do this to me?”.’

‘You can keep it [clitoris], but it’s going to be a problem later. Your husbands will leave you the day they fail to penetrate you.’

‘In our tradition, we do it to stop our girls from sleeping around. It’s our culture. It started a long time ago. I’ve done it to my daughters as it was done to me.’

While men claimed that what the society supports is clitoridectomy, which belongs to Type I, the majority of Somali women who underwent the practice experienced Type III (Gele et al., 2013). What is also evident is that some women who went through FGM/C justify their own experiences.

5.    Suggestions

While legislative powers are expected to be the leading drivers to end the practice, the unsettled political condition in Somalia forces other approaches to play stronger roles. First, international organizations’ support in capital, human resources, and techniques aids the establishment of local education institutions as intellectual bases which might be more sustainable in terms of uniting local strength to solve conflicts whichare interwoven with the perpetuation of FGM/C to sustain the efforts with contextualized education. Second, enforcement of customary law based on clan networks calls for community-oriented programs. Such programs work towards understanding conflicts, needs, and potentials in contexts by cooperating with local people. Men’s roles should also be considered to aid towards sustainable development, since social pressure and lack of education perpetuate their notions about the practice and hinders women’s actionsto make a change. Therefore, ongoing human-rights based education programs connecting men and women, children and adults might make a positive impact on gender and psychosexual relations. Open discussions about the practice heldby local Imams, if possible, may relieve misunderstanding and abuse of religion. 

Health education is another necessity to evoke public understanding of how the ending of FGM/C can benefit health and bring harmonious family and community environments, which underpin more possibilities. Lastly, equipping local people with knowledge and skills which they can apply to develop their own community economy might help sustain a harmonious environment. Promising economic sectors such as plantation economy, fishing, manufacturing and foreign trade (Laitin, 1993) calls for opportunities both inside and outside Somalia, and international organizations can help connect European customers while community-driven organizations can help circulate resources among communities. Challenges to the eradication of FGM/C in Somalia are deeply embedded in local people’s minds. Changing education, improving economic circumstances, and establishing political stability with functioning legislative powers play crucial roles. While all efforts are certain to face challenges, progress can be made with continuous cooperation between devoted organizations and persistent Somalis. 

6.    References

Abulkadir, I. (2011). Somali Memories of Female Genital Mutilation. In Bradley, T. (Ed.). (2011). Women, Violence and Tradition: Taking FGM and Other Practices to a Secular State (pp. 51-72). London: Zed Books.

Elnashar, A. & Abdelhady, R. (2007). The Impact of Female Genital Cutting on Health of Newly Married Women. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 97(3), 238-244. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2007.03.008

El-Defrawi, M.H., Lotfy, G., Dandash, K.F., Refaat, A.H. & Eyada, M. (2001). Female Genital Mutilation and its Psychosexual Impact. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 27(5), 465-473. doi: 10.1080/713846810

Fourcroy, J.L. (1998). The Three Feminine Sorrows. Hospital Practice33(7), 15-21, doi: 10.1080/21548331.1998.11443711

Gele, A.A., Bø, B.P. & Sundby, J. (2013). Have We Made Progress in Somalia after 30 Years of Interventions? Attitudes Toward Female Circumcision Among People in the Hargeisa District. BMC research notes, 6, 122. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-6-122

Gele, A.A., Kumar, B., Hjelde, K. & Sundby, J. (2012). Attitudes toward Female Circumcision among Somali Immigrants in Oslo: A Qualitative Study. International Journal of Women's Health, 2012(4), 7-17. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S27577

Johnson-Agbakwu, C.E., Helm, T., Killawi, A. & Padela, A.I. (2013). Perceptions of Obstetrical Interventions and Female Genital Cutting: Insights of Men in a Somali Refugee Community.Ethnicity and Health, 1-18. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2013.828829

Laitin D.D. (1993). The Economy. In Helen Chapin, M. (1993). Somalia: A Country Study(4th ed.) (pp. 146-149). Washington D.C.: Federal Research Division.

Longinotto K. (2010). The Day I Will Never Forget Can ku de ge li. Taibei Shi : Nü xing ying xiang xue hui chu pin.

Momoh, C. (2005). Female Genital Mutilation. In Momoh, C. (Ed.). (2005). Female Genital Mutilation(pp. 5-12). Abingdon, Oxon: Radcliffe.

Morison, L.A., Dirir, A., Elmi, S., Warsame, J. & Dirir, S. (2004). How Experiences and Attitudes Relating to Female Circumcision Vary According to Age on Arrival in Britain: A Study among Young Somalis in London. Ethnicity and Health, 9(1), 75-100. doi: 10.1080/1355785042000202763

Obermeyer, C.M. (1999). Female Genital Surgeries: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 13(1), 79-106. doi: 10.1525/maq.1999.13.1.79

Powell, B., Ford, R. & Nowrasteh, A. (2008). Somalia after State Collapse: Chaos or Improvement?Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 67(3), 657-670. doi: 10.1016/j.jebo.2008.04.008

Rouzi, A.A. (2013). Facts and Controversies on Female Genital Mutilation and Islam. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18(1), 10-14. doi: 10.3109/13625187.2012.749982

Shetty, P. (2014). Slow Progress in Ending Female Genital Mutilation. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 92(1), 6-7. doi: 10.2471/BLT.14.020114

Susuman, A.S., Chialepeh, W.N., Bado, A. & Lailulo, Y. (2016). High Infant Mortality Rate, High Total Fertility Rate and Very Low Female Literacy in Selected African Countries.Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 44(1), 2-5. doi: 10.1177/1403494815604765

UNICEF. (2016). New Statistical Report on Female Genital Mutilation Shows Harmful Practice is a Global Concern. Washington D.C.: The Author.

Tostan. (2017). Tostan: Dignity for All. Retrieved from

United Nations (UN). (2015). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from

United Nations Children’s Fund. (UNICEF). (2016a). Somalia Situation Report. Retrieved from

United Nations Children’s Fund. (UNICEF). (2016b). UNICEF'S Data Work on FGM/C. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (WHO). (2012). Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 90(9), 633-712. Retrieved from

World Health Organization (WHO). (2008). Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement UNAIDS, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCHR, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, WHO. Geneva: World Health Organization.

About the Author

MA Jun, Carey

MEd, The University of Hong Kong


Sustainable Menstruation for Adolescent Schoolgirls in Rural Kenya

By Ragini Mae Gomonit Chengalath

Table of Contents:

1.    Introduction

2.    Problems Faced by Adolescent Schoolgirls in Rural Kenya 

3.    The Sustainability of Menstrual Cups

4.    Menstrual Health Education and Menstrual Cups: Considerations and Barriers

5.    Recommendations

6.    References

7.    Key Terms and Definitions 

8.    About the Author

1.    Introduction

Menstruation, the periodic discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus, is an important and often overlooked occurrence. In low-income settings, good menstrual hygiene can be a challenge that needs to be overcome as it createsproblems for school-going girls. Menstrual health education (MHE) covers menstrual health, hygiene,and reproductive health, and can be used to help prepare womenfor the onset of menstruation and the challenges it brings. 

In rural Kenya, adolescent schoolgirls face underlying problems when dealing with menstruation due to lack of quality MHE and lack of access to reusable feminine hygiene products. These in turn lead to a wide array of issues such as school absenteeism, mental and physical health problems, and negative environmental impact. MHE is therefore crucial in educating girls towards a more sustainable future. Furthermore, lack of MHE and hygiene services ultimately lead to gender inequality. 

Menstrual health is both explicitly and implicitly relevant to 5 out of the 17 United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (Keith, 2016). These include several targets such as 6.2 (adequate sanitation and hygiene, particularly for women and girls), 5.6 (universal access to reproductive health and rights), 4.5 (elimination of gender disparities in education), and 4.7 (acquisition of knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development through education for sustainable development) (UN, 2015). Countries should promote a sustainable approach to menstruation through culturally-sensitive MHE. Education should focus on reusable feminine hygiene products, empower girls and change attitudes towards menstruation within communities. 

This entry bringsto light some of the problems menstruating adolescent schoolgirls in rural Kenya often face and proposes a possible solution that includesthe use of menstrual cups and MHE. It also identifies barriers that exist which may influence the willingness to usemenstrual cups by schoolgirls and emphasises the importance of quality MHE to overcome these barriers. Although this entryfocuses on problems faced by schoolgirls in rural Kenya, itbeing a global issueisrelevant across the world. 

2.    Problems Faced by Adolescent Schoolgirls in Rural Kenya

In Kenya menstruationis viewed as ‘dirty’ (McMahon et al., 2011, p. 4) and sanitary pads are often referred to as ‘mud guards’ (p. 7). When girls have their period, they either go home during the school day or miss school altogether to avoid the risk of leakage that may stain their uniforms (Jewitt and Ryley, 2014), or having to clean themselves at school. Ultimately, lack of education and support as well as access to good sanitary products leaves girls at a disadvantage when compared to their male counterparts.

Lack of access to feminine hygiene products, which primarily is the result oftheir unaffordability is one concern. In low-income families, sanitary towels are viewed as a luxury item (Jewitt andRyley, 2014), forcing girls to use alternatives such as dry grass, leaves, and cotton (Keith, 2016). This increases risk of infections that may ultimately also lead to severe health issues if left untreated, including greater susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (Keith, 2016). Reusable feminine hygiene products such as cloth sanitary pads and menstrual cups are a solution to the problem of cost. Nevertheless, there are still health risks associated with using reusable products without proper education. For example, reusable pads must be washed and dried after every use, however girls are often shy and unwilling to hang pads outside to dry in the open. Instead, they are left to dry improperly ‘hidden inside’ or ‘under the bed’ (Hennegan et. al, 2016, p. 4), increasing the risk of infection. These are issues that can be avoided through education, and it is therefore important to inform girls about the resources that are available and how to use them safely.

MHE is a necessary subject to teach to women and men as it includes the material aboutmenstruation, menstrual hygiene,and issues relating to menstruation,such as puberty, that cancreate apositive menstruation experience for girls. MHE must take placeinside and outside of school. According to Crichton et al. (2012), mothers, school teachers, and other relatives are the best sources of information about menstruation for girls. However, often these schoolgirls do not talk about menstruation at home or at school (McMahon et al., 2011). Lack of knowledge about menstruation leavesthem with feelings of fear, powerlessness, and shame. 

3.    The sustainability of menstrual cups

The menstrual cup is a bell-shaped, reusable feminine hygiene product made out of silicone. The cup is inserted into vagina where it collects menstrual fluid and is emptied and cleaned when necessary before reuse. Menstrual cups have economic, environmental,and health benefits that encourage more sustainable menstruation for girls and can be considered a possible solution to some of the problems they face. 

As menstrual cups are reusable, they produce significantly less waste and are more environmentally friendly than disposable products such as sanitary pads and tampons. Since disposable products must be changed several times a day, millions are disposed of daily, along with their plastic packaging. Furthermore, sanitary pads and tampons contain chemicals for fluid absorption and odour elimination, which can contaminate the environment after disposal. The high demand and production of non-renewable menstrual products has had a lasting, negative impact on the environment. However, depending on brand and upkeep, one menstrual cup can be used for approximately five years (Beksinska et al., 2015) making them far more environmentally friendly. 

The cost of menstrual hygiene products for these schoolgirls is an issue. A packet of sanitary pads in Kenya can cost 75 Kenyan Shillings (Rubli, 2014), which is more than half the daily income of an unskilled labourer. Over one menstrual cycle, a girl may go through two packets. However, only one menstrual cup is needed to replace years’ worth of sanitary pads and tampons. 

Menstrual cups also have health benefits when compared to other feminine hygiene products. First, they do not contain the chemicals found in sanitary pads and tampons (Silverman, 2015), as they are typically made of medical-grade silicone. This makes them safer than tampons, for example, where there is a risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (Juma et al., 2017). Second, the fluid collected is held away from the cervix, reducing risk of infections that can be caused by using tampons (Kapitako, 2017). Third, menstrual cups can be safely worn for longer time periods, making them ideal for schoolgirls. Fourth, wearing menstrual cups does not result in the odour that often comes with wearing sanitary pads. (Silverman, 2015). Finally, menstrual cups can help women monitor menstrual blood flow, which can be helpful in detecting medical conditions such as menorrhagia (abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding) (Stewart et al., 2009; Kapitako, 2017).

4.    Menstrual health education and menstrual cups: Considerations and barriers

One major barrier is access to clean water, as menstrual cup cleanliness is vital for safe use. To do so, girls must ensure their hands and menstrual cups are clean when removing and reinserting, and cups should also be boiled after every cycle to avoid risk of infection. Safe spaces and sanitation facilities (UNESCO, 2014) to practice good menstrual hygiene are therefore necessary, both at home and at school. Another barrier is the initial cost of menstrual cups, which is significantly more than a single sanitary pad or tampon. The Ruby Cup for example, can cost between 27-55 euros (Ruby Cup, n/d). However, despite greater initial cost, menstrual cups can last several years, making them more cost effective long-term. Several organisations, such as Ruby Cup in Kenya,are working to provide menstrual cups free of charge (along with necessary MHE) to girls in need.

Perhaps some of the more difficult barriers to overcome concern culture and cultural taboos. In many African cultures, including in rural Kenya, the onset of menstruation brings about a number of values and beliefs embedded in the culture. One example is the understanding that one must remain silent about menstruation. McMahon et al. (2011) highlight the expectation upheld by society that menstruation should not be discussed, as girls believe that male relatives and classmates are ‘not supposed to know’ (Mason et al., 2013, p. 5) about menstruation. This perpetuates the aforementioned knowledge gap and further propagates the girls’ feelings of shame.

Second,patriarchal societies lead to prejudice against women. Greed (2014) argues that even in sanitation agendas such as toilet designs‘menstruation remains marginalized’(as cited in Jewitt andRyley, 2014, p. 139), resulting in women feeling a burden in their everyday lives. The nature of patriarchal societies also makes it difficult for girls to approach male teachers for assistance, and vice versa. (Jewitt and Ryley, 2014). Moreover, there is a ‘sexual dimension’ of menstruation (McMahon et al., 2011, p. 5), which is the perceived relationship between menstruation and sexual maturity. When a girl menstruates, she is no longer seen as a child, and this is often a signal for parents to begin considering marital prospects. 

Consequently, parents often pull their daughters out of school as they now see her education as ‘unnecessary’ (Jewittand Ryley, 2014, p. 4). Girls also feel pressure from the opposite sex once they begin menstruatingas they are viewed more sexually (Mason et al., 2013).Additionally, views on ‘virginity’ and how the menstrual cup may affect perceived virginity play a role, and menstrual cups are often viewed as a violation of virginity (Silverman, 2015).

Lastly, there is an understanding that menstruation is ‘dirty’ or ‘impure’a description applied to both menstrual blood and women (Keith, 2016, p. 5). Often, menstruating women are excluded from normal daily practices, such as cooking, dining with others (Keith, 2016; McMahon et al., 2011), or even being at home (Silverman, 2015). This exclusion can lead to the aforementioned feelings of shame they experience. 

Several problems also arise from lack of proper MHE. Without education on proper use and cleaning of menstrual cups arises health and hygiene risks, and improper cleaning can lead to bacteria growth such as E. Coli (Juma et al., 2017). There is also the vital need to educate the local community and reduce cultural barriers encountered. Stigma associated with menstruation needs to be tackled by educating the wider community, both at home and at school. There is a need for ‘increased attention to educating boys and male teachers on puberty in general and menstruation in particular, in order to create less stigmatized school environments for girls’ (UNESCO, 2014, p. 29). 

5.    Recommendations

It is difficult to come up with a single solution within the given context. However, it is safe to say that education can help overcomethe stigma surrounding menstruation and shameit creates. Several recommendations can therefore be suggested. 

First, MHE must be available in schools to ensure all schoolgirls have access, either organised internally or through partner organisations such as Ruby Cup, The Malkia Initiative Foundation, or Asante Africa Foundation. However, access is only the first step and quality education must be ensured. Educational material should be age appropriate, accurate and impartial, and be taught by suitable educators. Additionally, if menstrual cups are to be implemented, education relating specifically to menstrual cups must be included in the programmes. Second, learning should happen in a safe environment, where learners feel comfortable and are willing to ask questions. Third, education should not just cover menstruation, but include related subjects such as puberty and its sexual implications, for example,to help fight stigma (UNESCO, 2014). Fourth, boys and menmust also be educated to encourage positive perceptions on menstruation and create better school environments. Lastly, MHE must not happen only in school, but in informal settings too. For example, community programmes on MHE will encourage education for family members and the wider community.

Although it is a global problem, unique cultural aspects individualise it. It is also important to consider that menstrual cups may not be a suitable and sustainable solution in this context. One could argue that perhaps the advantages of menstrual cups do not outweigh the cultural barriers that may be encountered, and other solutions may be more appropriate (such as reusable menstrual pads). With more research will come more confidence and direction, however it is a starting point to begin a discussion on an often-overlooked problem, and to investigate what work is currently being done. What needs to be reiterated is the idea that quality MHE and sustainable feminine hygiene products must work together to create a sustainable menstrual future for adolescent schoolgirls in rural Kenya. 

6.    References

Beksinska, M. E., Smit, J., Greener, R., Todd, C. S., Lee, M. T., Maphumulo, V., Hoffmann, V. (2015). Acceptability and Performance of the Menstrual Cup in South Africa: A Randomized Crossover Trial Comparing the Menstrual Cup to Tampons or Sanitary Pads. Journal of Women’s Health, 24(2), 151-158. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2014.5021

Crichton, J., Ibisomi, L., Gyimah, O. (2012). Mother-Daughter Communication About Sexual Maturation, Abstinence and Unintended Pregnancy: Experiences from an Informal Settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Journal of Adolescence, 35(1), 21-30. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2011.06.008

Greed, C. (2014). Global Gendered Toilet Provision. Paper presented at the Association of American Geographers’ Annual Conference, Tampa, Florida (09.04.14).

Hennegan, J., Dolan, C., Wu, M., Scott, L., Montgomery, P. (2016). Measuring the Prevalence and Impact of Poor Menstrual Hygiene Management: A Quantitative Survey of Schoolgirls in Rural Uganda. BMJ Open, 6(12). doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012596

Jewitt, S., Ryley, H. (2014). It’s a Girl Thing: Menstruation, School Attendance, Spatial Mobility and Wider Gender Inequalities in Kenya. Geoforum, 56, 137-147. doi: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2014.07.006

Juma, J., Nyothach, E., Laserson, K. F., Oduor, C., Arita, L., Ouma, C., …Phillips-Howard, P. A. (2017). Examining the Safety of Menstrual Cups Among Rural Primary School Girls in Western Kenya: Observational Studies Nested in a Randomised Controlled Feasibility Study. BMJ Open, 7(4). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-015429 

Kapitako, A. (2017, July 24). Namibia: Women Slowly Embracing Use of Menstrual Cup. New Era. Retrieved from

Keith, B. (2016). Girls and Women’s Right to Menstrual Health: Evidence and Opportunities.Outlook. 1-8

Mason, M., Nyothach, E., Alexander, K., Odhiambo, F. O., Eleveld, A., Vulule, J., …Phillips-Howard, P. A. (2013). ‘We Keep It Secret So No One Should Know’- A Qualitative Study to Explore Young Schoolgirls Attitudes and Experiences with Menstruation in Rural Western Kenya. PLoS ONE 8(11). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079132

McMahon, S. A., Winch, P. J., Caruso, B. A., Obure, A. F., Ogutu, E. A., Ochari, I. A., Rheingans, R. D. (2011). ‘The Girl With Her Period Is The One To Hang Her Head’Reflections on Menstrual Management Among Schoolgirls in Rural Kenya. BMC International Health & Human Rights, 11(7). doi: 0.1186/1472-698X-11-7

Rubli, S. (2014, December 12). How Menstrual Cups are Changing Lives in East Africa. Huffpost.Retrieved from

Ruby Cup: Our Partners (n/d). Ruby Cup. Ruby Life Limited. Retrieved from

Ruby Cup: How your donation helps (n/d).  Ruby Cup. Ruby Life Limited. Retrieved from

Ruby Cup: Shop (n/d). Ruby Cup. Ruby Life Limited. Retrieved from

Silverman, C. A. (2015). Menstrual Management: Cameroon and Kenya. Monroe Freshman Research. 

Stewart, K., Powell, M., & Greer, R. (2009). An Alternative to Conventional Sanitary Protection: Would Women Use a Menstrual Cup? Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 29(1): 49-52. doi: 10.1080/01443610802628841

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) (2014). Good Policy and Practice in Health Education. Booklet 9: Puberty Education & Menstrual Hygiene Management. UNESCO IIEP.

United Nations General Assembly (2015). Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.A/RES/70/1. 21 October. 

7.    Key Terms and Definitions

Menstruation: The periodic discharge of blood and tissue from the uterus

Menstrual Health Education (MHE): Education about menstruation and related topics, particularly menstrual health and hygiene. 

Adolescent: A young person developing into an adult

About the author

Ragini Mae Gomonit Chengalath

MEd, The University of Hong Kong 




Education and Support Services for Female Trafficking Survivors in Vietnam

By Anna Dinh

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 

2. Background 

3. Education and Support Services for Female Trafficking Survivors

3.1. Vocational Education Services

3.2. Health Education and Services

3.3. Psychological Support Services

3.4. Housing Support Services

4. Challenges of Service Implementation 

5. Recommendations 

6. References

7. About the Author

1. Introduction

Human trafficking traces back centuries and is deeply rooted in the history of civilization. It is not bound by geographical region, race, age,or gender. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (2017) defines human trafficking as recruiting and transporting people and holding power over them through acts of organ removal, sexual abuse, forced labor, or domestic servitude. This ubiquitous human rights issue has particularly grown rampant in the Asia Pacific Region, which includes countries such as China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam, among many others. Approximately two-thirds of the world’s trafficked victims are found in this part of the world and the majority of those constituents are women (International Labour Organization, 2017). Women and girls in this region are especially vulnerable to trafficking as deeply rooted gender inequalities collide with labor migration. 

Vietnam has invested in ongoing efforts to mitigate human trafficking and has implemented laws to help survivors rehabilitate. In May of 2017, Vietnam signed an Action Plan to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with two targets aimed at eradicating human trafficking and tackling gender inequalities (United Nations, 2017). The government and international organizations have initiated health, education, housing, and psychological programs to ease challenges faced by female survivors during recovery and decrease their likelihood of being re-trafficked (US State Department, 2016). The implementation of effective education and support services are vital in helping these women transform into autonomous citizens who can fully participate in the society.

This entry aims to advocate the importance of providing accessible and effective services to assist Vietnamese female trafficking survivors to rehabilitate and reintegrate. The entry commences with a brief background on government and international organization initiatives dedicated to supporting female trafficking survivors in Vietnam. The next sections discuss vocational, health, housing, and psychological programs, and challenges in service implementation. The last section will point to some recommendations to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of the aforementioned services. It must be noted that this entry has a few limitations. First, only four types of services are highlighted due to the limited length of this entry. Therefore, this entry does not serve as a comprehensive overview of all fundamental services provided for female trafficking survivors in Vietnam. Second, in view of the shortage of research and government data on human trafficking in Vietnam, information from other countries is used to supplement gaps in research.

2. Background

The US State Department (2016) identified Vietnam as a 'source country', where women are generally trafficked to such countries as Taiwan and Korea for forced marriages and/or domestic work. However, Vietnamese girls and women often willingly migrate across neighboring borders to seek employment opportunities, only to find themselves coerced into sexual servitude (Bélanger, 2014). Le (2017) described other cases of northern Vietnamese girls kidnapped into China and sold as brides. Although many women are trafficked abroad, in-country trafficking is also prevalent within Vietnam (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012). 

In response to the surge of human trafficking and the need to protect female trafficking survivors, the Vietnamese government and international organizations have launched several initiatives to assist women in recovery. As documented by Kneebone and Debeljak (2012), Vietnam implemented a National Plan of Actionfrom 2004 to 2010 to improve trafficking policies and reintegration services overseen by the Vietnamese Central Women’s Union and Ministry of Labor-Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA). Since Vietnamese Central Women’s Unionoversees trafficking prevention and MoLISA manages reception and reintegration, they are typically the first point of contact for female survivors before receiving assistance from local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012).

Several international agencies have taken direct and indirect action to support female survivors in Vietnam. For example, the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking has published reports and guidebooks featuring methods to assist trafficking survivors in the Asia Pacificregion, providing information on profiles of survivors, difficulties in recovery, and recommendations for assistance. These are invaluable resources for social workers and policy-makers who work alongside trafficking returnees. Other agencies such as the International Organization on Migration (IOM) and Action Aid have established recovery centers and launched anti-human trafficking campaigns (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012). Many other organizations have focused on vocational education, health services, housing support, and psychological services to assist female trafficking survivors in Vietnam.

3. Education and Support Services for Female Trafficking Survivors

3.1. Vocational Education Services

As mentioned above, human trafficking and labor migration are closely linked. Many women in Vietnam migrate to neighboring countries such as China and Cambodia to seek employment because opportunities may be limited in their home country. Unfortunately, traveling to unfamiliar territories may expose these individuals to violence and trafficking (Bélanger, 2014). Studies have found that trafficking returnees tend to hold low-levels of education, making it difficult for them to find employment and gain financial mobility (Silverman et al., 2007). Thus, females who return home after being trafficked continue to experience limited employment opportunities, whilst struggling with trauma recovery (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012; Zimmerman et al., 2003). 

Some difficulties in finding employment stem from individuals not knowing where to look for jobs or lacking marketable skills. Therefore, vocational education and job placement services may serve as stepping stones to help women gain financial mobility and independence. Several organizations in Vietnam provide vocational education and indirect job placement. A few notable organizations include Pacific Links Foundation (PALS), Centre for Women and Development (CWD), and Hagar International. According to Surtees (2017), services offered among vocational programs vary widely—some only offer assistance in job placement, others provide technical education, and some provide both. These services can serve as invaluable resources in helping female trafficking survivors find and acquire employment, as this endeavor is extremely difficult to accomplish alone.

3.2. Health Education and Services

Health education and services are essential necessities for female trafficking survivors because they often suffer extreme physical and sexual abuse, which may lead to severe injuries and the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (Kiss et al., 2015; Zimmerman et al., 2003). Unfortunately, women do not seek medical check-ups and treatment because they may be unaware of their importance. On the other hand, some female survivors may opt out of medical treatment because they are concerned about the high financial costs of medical services. Moreover, treatment facilities may be out of reach for survivors because clinics are sparse and usually located in large cities. 

It is vital to educate women on the importance of health check-ups while providing them with affordable and accessible health services. Alliance Anti-Traffic, PALS, and Hagar International are among several NGOs that offer health services for female trafficking returnees in Vietnam. These organizations offer basic health education and collaborate with clinics and hospitals to provide medical check-ups. Through these programs, women can learn about their reproductive health, personal hygiene, and get tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases (Surtees, 2017). Access to these health services enables female returnees to take charge of their own health and remedy injuries inflicted on them while they were trafficked. 

3.3. Psychological Support Services

The battle to overcome trafficking trauma is largely a psychological endeavor; extreme physical and sexual abuse may likely destroy an individual mentally and emotionally. Le (2017) found that many female trafficking survivors often exhibit emotions of denial, suppression, repression, and avoidance. Without proper care and treatment, these emotions may lead to chronic depression. Thus, psychological support services are essential in helping survivors heal from paralyzing trauma.

Several international organizations and NGOs in Vietnam currently provide psychological support programs for female returnees. Hagar International, IOM, PALS, and CWD are a few notable organizations. According to Surtees (2017), these psychological support programs often provide one-on-one and group counselling which is facilitated by social workers. Le (2017) asserted that engaging in therapeutic discussions with social workers and other trafficking survivors can help females reintegrate and construct a new ‘sense of self’. Furthermore, Robjant, Roberts and Katona (2017) suggested that therapy services can reduce the severity of post-traumatic stress disorder exhibited by many female trafficking survivors. 

3.4. Housing Support Services

Housing support services aim to provide safe shelter for female trafficking survivors in Vietnam. These services are essential in helping women rehabilitate physically and mentally before reintegrating into society. Shelters can provide female survivors with mental support from social workers and put them in contact with health clinics and hospitals. Moreover, females can develop vocational skills and advance their education while living in safe conditions. 

Several organizations such as MoLISA Shelters, PALS, CWD, and Little Rose offer housing and shelter services for female trafficking survivors in Vietnam. Services vary widely among these programs: some offer long-term accommodation while others only provide short-term housing (Surtees, 2017). Some shelters may solely focus on accommodation and meal arrangements, while others provide literacy education and vocational training (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012).Regardless of the varying foci of programs, housing services serve as an invaluable resource for female survivors and can help them get on the road to recovery.

4. Challenges of Service Implementation

Although the Vietnamese government, international agencies, and NGOs have invested a great deal in promoting rehabilitation programs for female trafficking survivors, there are still challenges in service implementation. According to the US State Department (2016), services remain limited and are sparsely located around Vietnam as a result of inadequate funding. Some programs receive enough funding to acquire qualified staff and resources, while others are left with meager funding and cannot afford qualified staff and vital resources. The uneven distribution of services and funding leads to inequality among women who live in different locations. For instance, female survivors who live in areas with sparse and low-quality services are at a disadvantage compared to those who live in locations with an abundance of higher quality services. 

Some vocational services charge female survivors fees and may not teach skills transferable in the labor market (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012; Surtees, 2013). Health services for female returnees lack resources and training for healthcare providers. Furthermore, the high cost and low quality of healthcare in Vietnam deters some women from seeking medical treatment (Surtees, 2013). Kneebone and Debeljak (2012) stated that psychological support services in Vietnam have a shortage of qualified social workers, compared to Thailand and Cambodia. Furthermore, interviews with female trafficking survivors in Vietnam suggested that low percentages of women seek out shelter service due to fear of being identified and labeled as ‘victims of trafficking’ (Kneebone and Debeljak, 2012; Vijeyarasa, 2010). 

5. Recommendations 

As mentioned above, education and support services for female trafficking survivors in Vietnam are sparsely located across the country. Some women may have an abundance of services while others may be left with little or no support. The Vietnamese government should increase funding for health, vocational, psychological, and housing services to make them more widespread and accessible. Furthermore, efforts must be put towards collecting data on profiles of female survivors and doing research to identify their needs to improve support services. To improve the consistency among programs, the government should establish best practice indicators to guide programs and their staff. Moreover, social workers and health care professionals in Vietnam should receive training specialized in treating female trafficking survivors. 

Human trafficking is a complex issue without a simple solution. Discourse on human trafficking in Vietnam tends to focus on prevalence and prevention techniques. However, discussions should pivot towards rehabilitation and reintegration services for female survivors because the battle against trafficking does not end when women are freed as these women still face immense physical, psychological, and social challenges during recovery. More efforts must be dedicated to improving the quality of education and support services for female trafficking survivors in Vietnam to help them rehabilitate and become active members of society.

6. References

Bélanger, D. (2014). Labor Migration and Trafficking Among Vietnamese Migrants in Asia. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653(1), 87-106.

International Labour Organization (ILO). (2017). 2017 Global Estimates of Child Labor and Modern Slavery: Asia and the Pacific Regional Brief.Geneva, Switzerland: International Labour Organization.

Kiss, L., Pocock, S. N., Naisanguansri, V., Suos, S., Dickson, B., Thuy, D., Koehler, J., Sirisup, K., Pongrungsee, N., Nguyen, A. V, Borland, R., Dhavan, P., & Zimmerman, C. (2015). Health of Men, Women, and Children in Post-Trafficking Services in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam: An observational Cross-sectional Study. The Lancet Global Health, 3(3), 154-161.

Kneebone, S. & Debeljak, J. (2012). Transnational Crime and Human Rights: Responses to Human Trafficking in The Greater Mekong Sub-Region. London; New York: Routledge.

Le, D. P. (2017). “Reconstructing a Sense of Self” Trauma and Coping Among Returned Women Survivors of Human Trafficking in Vietnam. Qualitative Health Research, 27(4), 509-519.

Robjant, K., Roberts, J., & Katona, C. (2017). Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Female Victims of Trafficking Using Narrative Exposure Therapy: A Retrospective Audit. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 8(63), 1-6.

Segrave, M., Milivojevic, S., & Pickering, S. (2012). Sex Trafficking. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Silverman, J. G, Decker, M. R., Gupta, J., Maheshwari, A., Patel, V., Willis, B. M., & Raj, A. (2007). Experiences of Sex Trafficking Victims in Mumbai, India. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 97(3), 221-226.

Surtees,R. (2013). After Trafficking: Experiences and Challenges in the Reintegration of Trafficked Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. Summary Report. Bangkok: UNIAP/NEXUS Institute.

Surtees, R. (2017) Supporting the Reintegration of Trafficked Persons: A Guidebook for the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.Bangkok, Thailand: NEXUS Institute, UN-ACT, and World Vision.

United Nations (UN). (2017). Vietnam National Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. United Nations General Assembly.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). (2017). What is Human Trafficking?Vienna, Austria: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

US State Department (2016). ‘Vietnam’Trafficking in Persons Report 2016. Washington, D.C., United States: United States Department of State.

Vijeyarasa, R. (2010). The State, The Family and Language of ‘Social Evils’: Re-stigmatizing Victims of Trafficking in Vietnam. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 12, 89-102.

Zimmerman, C., Yun, K., Shvab, I., Watts, C., Trappolin, L., Treppete, M., Bimbi, F., Adams, B., Jiraporn, S., Beci, L., Albrecht, M., Bindel, J., & Regan, L. (2003). The Health Risks and Consequences of Trafficking in Women and Adolescents: Findings from a European Study. London, England: London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

About the Author

Anna Dinh

MEd, The University of Hong Kong 


Prevention of Drug Abuse Through School Connectedness in Hong Kong

By Chen Sijia (Phyllis)

Table of Content

1.    Introduction

2.    Background

3.    Drug Education in Schools

4.    School Connectedness 

5.    Conclusion

6.     References

7.    About the Author

1. Introduction

Promotion of mental health and well-being is one of the targets ofGoal 3 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, under which there is a specific aim of strengthening prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol (United Nations, 2016). Substance abuse harms the development of individuals, families, and communities (Salam et al., 2016). In Hong Kong, it is estimated that more than four billion Hong Kong dollars were spent on combatting drug related issues in 1998 (Security Bureau, 2008). The problem is severe as there is an increase in the number of young drug abusers and a drop in the mean age of drug abusers (Security Bureau, 2009). Adolescents with poor social relationships and school engagement are likely to be at a greater risk for subsequent drug use (Bond et al., 2007). One way to prevent drug abuse is by enhancing school connectedness in secondary schools. 

This entry first gives an overview of the current drug situation among teenagers in Hong Kong, including the types of drugs they take, the locality of drug abuse, the reasons for drug abuse, and physical, mental and social impacts. This section is followed by theintroduction of current drug education and its potential limitations in secondary schools. As a way to solve the problem, the concept of ‘School Connectedness’ is introduced and analysed as a possible strategy for the prevention of drug abuse. 

2.    Background

According to the Hong Kong Security Bureau (2016), heroin, methamphetamine (commonly known as “Ice”), ketamine, triazolam, midazolam, zopiclone, cocaine, cannabis, cough medicine, MDMA, nimetazepam, etc. are abused in Hong Kong. Among all, heroin is the most popular one, but psychotropic substances including ketamine, ecstasy, ice, cannabis, and cocaine are commonly used by young abusers. Apart from purchasing them from drug dealers in person or from friends peers, youth can purchase drugsfrom a secure, online network, known as Darknet, which only requires a specific software and configurations to help dealers buy and sell drugs anonymously. 

Over half of abusers only take drugs at home or at friends’ homes (Security Bureau, 2016), which makes the hidden drug abuse problem more severe. As for public areas, the popular places for drug taking include recreation areas, parks, public toilets, disco/karaoke clubs, hotels, and bars. For young abusers, school (including school hostels) and electronic game centres are also common places for using drugs. 

The reasons behind drug abuse can be analysed from four perspectives: individual, family, school, and community. From the individual perspective, over half of reported young abusers claim peerinfluence. Curiosity, relief of negative emotions, seeking euphoria, sensory satisfaction, and avoiding discomfort are other common reasons among young people (Security Bureau, 2009). These reasons are closely related to psychological factors, such as lack of psychological competencies and coping skills, low sense of self-achievement, and non-engagement. In schools, poor academic achievement, low learning motivation, bad relationships with teachers, and lack of school connectedness may be predictors for risky behaviours including drug abuse (Security Bureau, 2009). In terms of family, absence of parents, poor relationships with close family members, and lack of supervision from adults may contribute to teenagers’ drug taking behaviour. From the societal viewpoint, the increase in the number of young abusers can be the result of the combination of many factors such as easier access to drugs, a growing wealth gap, and others. 

Drug abuse can do harm to one’s physical and mental health, social life, and overall performance and well-being. Physically, psychiatric substances may damage organs in a human body and cause changes in brain function, which may raise the chance of developing depression, hallucinations, attention deficit, and even long-term mental illness (Security Bureau, 2009). In addition, most psychotropic substances are potentially addictive. Young abusers may develop physical and psychological dependence, which may further cause adverse effects socially and economically. 

3.    Drug Education in Schools

Over half of the young abusers are under 15 years old and as such represent the age of people attending secondary school (Security Bureau, 2016). Therefore, schools should play an important role in preventing youth from drug abuse. As youth drug abuse has attracted more and more attention, efforts have been made to improve drug education in schools by incorporating more anti-drug elements in thecurriculumand extra-curricular activities. The learning elements include teaching students about the harm of drug use, training in skills to say no to peerspressuring them to try drugs,and instilling positive values and attitudes to face challenges of daily life. Education talks and programmes are also delivered in schools by NGOs.  

However, it has been found that the delivery of suchpreventativeprogrammes in schoolsis inadequate(Lam et al., 2011). First, there is a problem of limited resources and support to deliver drug education or handle specific drug cases in many schools. Second, many teachers do not have sufficient knowledge and skills to teach about drug issues. Third, the distinctive postmodern culture that encourages risky behaviours including drug abuse can be easily spread on campusbut hard to detect by teachers (Laidler, 2005). These factors lead to ineffectiveness of drug education. 

4.    School Connectedness

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009), school connectedness refers to students’ sense of belonging to school, the belief held by students that they are cared for as individuals by teachers, peers, and school staffs, as well as their feeling of enjoyment and active engagement in school. With school connectedness, students are more likely to have better academic performance and less engagement in risky behaviours (Resnick et al., 1997). School connectedness therefore can be seen as an important protective factor that helps promote a healthy culture on campus and increase emotional well-being of students. There are several practical strategies that can be applied to increase school connectedness. 

To create a safe learning environment, many schools apply a zero-tolerance policy which normally requires expulsion when an infraction happens for the first time. However, it is reported that with harsh discipline policies, students feel less safe at school (McNeely, Nonnemaker, and Blum, 2002). That does not mean that schools should not make any disciplinary regulations. In contrast, schools should pay more attention to student’s core developmental needs and incorporate those needs into policies to maximize school connectedness. According to Eccles, Midgefield, and Wigfield (1993), adolescents at the age of attending secondary school have an increasing need for autonomy and want to demonstrate their competences. At the same time, they need not only receive care and support from adults and peers, but also developmentally appropriate supervision. When making disciplinary policies, schools need to take these developmental needs into account and support students not only in relation to their academic achievements.

Teachers play an important role in positively connecting students to schools (Vidourek, 2009). However, big class sizes in some schools make it difficult for teachers to provide individualized assistance and show warmth and sympathy to each and every student. Instead, teachers only focus on quantitative standards such as students’ homework and test scores, thus lowering students’ school connectedness. Therefore, teachers should change their attitudes and make use of some strategies to increase school connectedness of students. Similar to school policy making, teachers need to consider students’ developmental needs when setting classroom rules. For example, teachers can involve students in the process of low-level decision-making and the planning of classroom-based curricula to provide more opportunities for autonomy (Blum, McNeely, and Rinehart, 2002). Teachers can also provide more chances for students to share responsibilities in the classroom by giving appropriate leadership positions to students so that they can see themselves as part of a collectivity. 

Apart from that, it is important for teachers to help build a sense of community in the classroom. It is useful to involve some icebreaking activities at the beginning of semester to help students get to know their classmates. During school year, teachers can promote cooperation among students by grouping students with diverse backgrounds and abilities to work on projects or conduct discussions together so that students could learn from each other and at the same time gain a deeper understanding of their classmates. Projects or discussions can be related to drug-related issues which will help students actively engage in drug education (Vidourek, 2009). It has been shown that such cooperative learning reduces substance use and other risky behaviours and increases student connectedness to peers and schools (Blum, McNeely & Rinehart, 2002; Johnson, 1974). 

There are other specific ways for teachers to build positive relationships with each and every student. As recommended by Blum, McNeely, and Rinehart (2002), teachers could make a simple change in language by addressing the class using ‘we’, ‘us’, and ‘our’, instead of first or second person (I or you) to break down barriers and to strengthen the connectedness. It is also necessary for teachers to know their students by name and to praise their strengths. Applying these strategies in classroom management meets the needs of students’ psychological development and helps increase their school connectedness. 

Over half of secondary school students complain that school is boring (Whitlock, 2006). Interactive learning strategies become important to keep students engaged and make them feel connected. To make the classroom an interesting place to learn, teachers need to communicate clearly with students about their learning goals in every lessonand make lessons relevant to students’ lives and the real world (CDC, 2009). Using student-centred pedagogies and allowing personalisation of lessons can also help create a positive learning environment (CDC, 2009). When students find learning interesting and have intrinsic motivation to study they naturally become more engaged and connected to school.

Apart from increasing school connectedness, drug education in schools can be improved by positive cooperation between the government and schools. More resources and support should be provided by the Narcotics Division for schools in need. Schools also need to positively seek support and cooperate with NGOs to improve their anti-drug programmes and to increase the ability to handle unfortunate drug cases among students. Social workers in NGOs can visit schools on a regular basis to build a strong connection to ensure efficiency and quality of drug education in schools. In addition, more anti-drug knowledge and skills should be included in teacher training programmes or professional development workshops to guarantee the quality of drug education delivery. Teachers can include the anti-drug elements in their daily teaching. 

5.     Conclusion 

Prevention of drug use is one important path to achieve sustainable development. Youth drug problem has always been an issue in Hong Kong and, as the number of young abusers is increasing while the age of first-time-abusers is dropping, drug education has to be improved. This entry gave an overview of the current situation of drug abuse in Hong Kong and then provided background information on drug education and ways to improve it. The concept of school connectednesswas introduced as a strategy to promote a healthy culture and to reduce risky behaviours of students in secondary schools. The entry can raise students’ awareness of drug abuse and provide teachers with insight on how to include prevention of drug abuse in their daily teaching and school activities. The public can also make use of the entry as an effective input for drug prevention.

6.    References

Bond, L., Butler, H., Thomas, L., Carlin, J., Glover, S., Bowes, G., & Patton, G. (2007). Social and School Connectedness in Early Secondary School as Predictors of Late Teenage Substance Use, Mental Health, and Academic Outcomes. Journal of Adolescent Health40(4), 357-e9.

Blum, R. W., McNeely, C. A., & Rinehart, P, M. (2002). The Untapped Power of Schools to Improve the Health of Teens.Minneapolis, MN: Center for Adolescent Health and Development, University of Minnesota.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Eccles, J. S., Midgefield, C., & Wigfield, A. (1993). Development during Adolescence: The Impact of Stage-environment Fit on Young Adolescents’ Experiences in Schools and in Families. Am Psychol,48, 90-101.

Johnson, D. W. (1974). A Theory of Social Effectiveness. In M. Wong (Ed.), Why Drugs? The Psychology of Drug Abuse.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Extension Division.

Laidler, K. A. J. (2005). The Rise of Club Drugs in a Heroin Society: The Case of Hong Kong. Substance Use and Misuse, 40, 1257–1579. 

Lam, C. M., Lau, P. S., Law, B. M., & Poon, Y. H. (2011). Using Positive Youth Development Constructs to Design a Drug Education Curriculum for Junior Secondary Students in Hong Kong. The Scientific World Journal11, 2339-2347 

McNeely, C.A., Nonnemaker, J.M, & Blum, R.W. (2002). Promoting School Connectedness: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Journal of School Health72(4), 138-146. 

Resnick, M., Bearman, P, Blum R., Bauman K., Harris K., Jones, J, et al.(1997). Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. JAMA, 278(10), 823-832.  

Salam, R. A., Hooda, M., Das, J. K., Arshad, A., Lassi, Z. S., Middleton, P., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2016). Interventions to Improve Adolescent Nutrition: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Adolescent Health59(4), S29-S39.

Security Bureau (2008). Report of the Task Force on Youth Drug Abuse.Retrieved from

Security Bureau (2009). Report on the Youth Drug Abuse in Hong Kong. Retrieved from

Security Bureau. (2016). Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics: Drug Abuse Situation in Hong Kong in 2015.Retrieved from

United Nations. (2016).Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from

Vidourek, R. A. (2009). Elementary & Middle School Teachers' Use and Perceptions of School Connectedness Strategies. Cincinnati, OH:University of Cincinnati.

Whitlock, J. L. (2006). Youth Perceptions of Life at School: Contextual Correlates of School Connectedness in Adolescence. Applied Developmental Science, 10, 13 - 29.

About the Author

Chen Sijia (Phyllis)

MEd, The University of Hong Kong