Created: 1996-05-15, Last update: 1997-03-30, Author: Holger Blasum, URL:, Parent:

Report on environmental awareness of middle school and university students

(Environmental Volunteer Group of Sichuan Union University)

1. Aims of the investigation

To understand the differences in environmental attitudes of university, secondary and primary school students, as well as to raise students' environmental awareness, our environmental volunteering group made an inquiry to our fellow students.

2. Interviewed persons of the investigation

The scope of this investigation was mainly within Sichuan Union University, Chengdu No 12 Middle School, Chengdu No 29 Middle School and the Sichuan Union Unversity-associated primary school. Altogether 450 copies were handed out, and 407 copies recollected, thereof 273 university students (67%) and 134 middle/primary students (33%). There were 245 males (60%) and 162 females (40%),. Included were 20 environmental science students (5%). The average age of the university students was 20 yrs, of the subuniversity level students 15 yrs.

3. Investigation results

3.1. Thanks to the high inputs of the society, the sutdents already have acertain environmental knowledge, which is shown in the following aspects:
3.1.1. The environmental awareness is rather pronounced: 91% of the students claim to know the concept of environment, 87% differentiate between environmental protection and public sanitation, 85% consider environment to be a resource, 94% think that natural environment has a price.
3.1.2. There is some environmental awareness: Less than 5% of the students state they've never heard of global warming, ozone layer decomposition, biodiversity reduction, freshwater resource depletion and acid rain, 80-85% claim to understand something of the topics, the rate of students who were able to write down the effects of of the glasshouse effect was 70%. From four electric applicances, 85% of the students chose freezers as ozone-layer destroying.More than 80% of the students had heard of green food.
3.1.3. Having a certain knowledge of environmental law: 93% of the persons have heard about environmental protection laws, 80-95% had lheard about that it is prohibited to im-/export rubbish, that paying pollution fees cannot substitute the necessity for environmental recovery, and which are the responsibilites of the environmental department.
3.1.4. There is some awareness about the urgency of the environmenta problems: 94% of the students know that environmental resourcs are scarce. Among 10 problems students chose it most pressing after population and science and technological development (table 1).

Table 1
Problem                         1st rank
Population                      27%
Science and Technology Devel.   15%
Environment                     14%
Education                       12%
Social morals                    9%
Security                         5%
Social injustice                 4%
Housing                          2%
Unemployment                     2%

A mere 2% is satisfied with the Chinese environmental situation, 28% consider it average and 67% consider it bad. As far as the Chengdu enviroment is concerned, 5% are satisfied, 48% consider it average and 45% consider it bad, this shows Chengdu is considered better than nationwide.

97% agree that the economy must develop in a harmonic way with the enviroment, 94% consider that it's very important mow to do environmental protection, 90% think that environmental deterioration is inflicted by pollution and urbanization.
3.1.5. Many people are also concerned with the day/to/day problems: 90% of the students heard or read environmental broadcasts and publications, 84% have heard about Western garbage imports to China, 70% named the Chengdu Fu and Nan Rivers Project, 75% are aware of saving electricity and 90% are aware of saving water. 80% throw rubbish into the dustbin, 90% do not want rubbish burnt on the campus, 53% of the students are interested to participate in on/campus environmental activities, 87% want to treat pollution and pay for it (100 Yuan/yr), even if they had a reletive in a polluting company, 70% would agree with it closing down for environmental reasons. These figures should give rise to optimism.

3.2. However there are also some wants:
3.2.1. Only half of the know the date of the environment day, only 1/4 recognize the recycling logon.
3.2.2. 15% of the students think TV sets, computers or microwaves are directly related to zone layer destruction, 30% don't know the results of the glasshouse effect.
3.2.3. Knowledge about legal issues is poor. Among the university students, 90% don't know the "Santong" slogan, even in the environmental science 2/3 can't define it, 40% have never heard of environmental auditing.
3.2.4. Awareness is not enough, it should be combined with own action: 20% admit they don't close the lights after leaving their rooms, 80% only occasionally see environemtal programs or papers, only 25% want to take part in environmental protection activities, nearly 50% sre also disinterested in keeping the campus clean, 70% of the students are decided to buy a car if they have the money for it. If closing a pollutnant factory affected own economic interests (relative in facotry) disagreement rose from 15 to 30%. Even if it wouldn't affect the own position, less than 30% would inquire about or report environmentally noxious habits at the workplace.

3.3. Some comparisions and analyses:

3.3.1. Sex: The male respondents were more aware of knowledge and environmental law than female respondents who in turn are more willing to participate in environmental activities: 46% of males vs. 27% of females knew the environment day's date, males ranked the environment as third most important problem, females as the second most important one, only 49% of males and 63% of females want to participate in environmental action. More males than females don't close the light after leaving their rooms. However, keep in mind that although the above-mentioned data are significant at the P<0.01 level, the ratio of male interviewees was also significantly higher in the university than in the middle school population.

3.3.2. Age: Middle school students are more optiistic and more active than university students, in legal knowledge they socred 15-20% less well than university students.

Table 2: Environmental protection depends on:
Legal regulations Individual efforts State input
University 53% 36% 24%
Middle School 26% 69% 14%

Some 60% of middle school students have an optimistic opinion about China's environemtal, this is 15% more than university students. 36% (middle school) vs. 19% do not want to buy a car.

3.3.3. Background: Those students who came from the countryside had less environmental knowledge (10%) than those fron the city, but their behavior was 17% more active than of their urban classmates.

3.3.4. As anticipated, environmental knowledge is better within the environemtal department, but the attitude about China's environmental future is also the most pessimistic one. Something should be done to overcome this pessimistic mood.

4. Conclusions and outlook

This is the first material about enviromental awareness in our school. By more than 20 years of environemtal education, the students have a c ertain environmental awareness, but it is not satisfying and there are many problems. We believe that only by the work of the whole society and every indivdual, when environmental awareness necomes common, China's environmental tasks can be solved in the future.

5. Original data

Is stored as STUDENV.ZIP in this directory.