By Frederick Philander Windhoek “There is world-wide recognition for the role that education in the arts and education through the arts play in the provision of quality education.” So said Retha-Louis Hofmeyr, director of Arts Programmes in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, last week at an international conference on the creative processes in education at NIED in Okahandja. According to her, global research perspectives on the impact of arts in education commissioned by UNESCO and formulated in collaboration with the International Federation of Arts Councils and Cultural Agencies (IFACCA), were tabled at UNESCO’s World Conference on Art Education in Portugal in March this year. “Speakers from all over the world made a case for the inclusion of arts in the formal school curriculum on two levels: as a cross-curricular tool through which creativity should be developed on equal footing with reading, writing and arithmetic, and as promotional (pre)-vocational subjects offered up to the highest school levels,” Retha-Louis Hofmeyr said. In June 2006, the third World Summit on Arts and Culture, held in Manchester, addressed the role of the arts in transforming people, lives and places. “The Katutura Community Arts Centre, situated in the former migrant labour hostel is an excellent example of the rejuvenating power of the Arts in changing a place previously associated with oppression into a space of hope, where freedom of artistic and spiritual expression is practiced,” she pointed out. At a recent conference on Integrated Value Based Education hosted by the International Centre of the Living Arts Foundation in Bangalore, India, in June 2006, the arts were recognized as powerful instruments for interdisciplinary dialogue and for integrating values in culturally diverse societies. “Arts have the power to bring unity and to nurture mutual respect. The holistic development of the child was seen to be central in learner-centred education and the need for the deepening of the spiritual foundation of education through cultural and ancient belief systems was investigated by leading figures of different education movements,” Hofmeyr said. Quoting from a Senegalese document on the importance of arts in education, she said: “It places the cultural coherence of the child at the heart of any educational strategy” and ” … increases the value of all the disciplines and processes that have always been used by the communities – according to their own culture – to mould children’s identity through their emotional and cognitive dispositions. Hence the importance too of the social dimension of art education which protects poor children form being marginalized from the education system.” Educationalists from abroad and Namibia attended the three-day conference at NIET in Okahandja.
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