Canadian students’ environmental knowledge and attitudes

Those interested in the environment may have missed some relevant findings from the 2006 OECD‘s PISA Science assessment results. The education findings are well-known (Canadian youth score highly both on raw achievement and on equity measures), but less well-known is the fact that the Science assessment also gauged youths’ awareness of and attitudes towards environmental issues.

Canadian students:

  • ranked 7th on awareness of environmental issues
  • were slightly below the OECD average when it came to concern for these issues,
  • were below average on their optimism that these environmental problems will be improved in the next 20 years
  • were at the OECD average on measures surrounding responsibility for sustainable development

It’s worth noting that students from the “most culpable countries” (in which we could include, according roughly to consumption and pollution per capita: Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand) were all below the OECD average for concern about environmental issues.

What would be interesting would be a measure that related, say, per capita carbon output to awareness/concern for environmental issues. If these PISA results are representative of a broader trend, I imagine Canada would fall seriously short on such an indicator.

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