Exploring grade 9 learners’ knowledge of and attitudes towards biotechnology in two South African schools

Sewsunker, Tanuja
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This research was motivated by the necessity for Biotechnology education in the General Education and Training (GET) phase as biotechnology influences our daily lives in almost every way. Our human population is continually increasing and there is a need for increased food security to sustain the larger population. Hence technological advancement in the medical, agricultural and commercial sectors are taking place every day. Therefore, biotechnology education is necessary at an early age in order for learners to make an informed decision about the different products that are available in the market. This qualitative study aimed to identify the knowledge of and attitude towards biotechnology among grade 9 learners. This study was conducted in two South African schools in the Gauteng province. A total of 360 learners participated in the study and 25 learners from each school were selected as the sample for the study. Data was gathered using a questionnaire which consisted of closed ended and open ended questions based on knowledge and attitudes. The data analysis was essentially qualitative as it involved interpretation of the learners’ response in order to gain further understanding and insight. However, part of the questionnaire i.e. question 2 was quantitative. The data analysis revealed that grade 9 learners do indeed have knowledge about biotechnology. However, some of the knowledge they have, has many misconceptions i.e. in terms of genetic modification, inserting or removing genes and this largely due to a lack of formal teaching, as it is not a requirement in the grade 9 Natural Science curriculum. This information is useful for teachers teaching Natural Science and for teachers teaching Life Sciences to grade 10, 11 and 12, as well as curriculum developers.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Science in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science. Johannesburg March 2015