By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Namibian arts have enormous educational value and potential, presenting a multitude of learning and teaching opportunities to learners in the country. So said the arts educational officer of NIED, Calvin Martin, last week during a one-day consultative meeting on the importance of arts in education between representatives of the Oruuano Artists Union and academic art experts from Finland. According to Martin, learners directly involved in arts are more motivated, more engaged, more sensitive, more focused, creative and responsible. “The question is are we offering our learners an arts curriculum that allows them to grow in totality? In my view the possible significance of arts in the education of the Namibian youth is largely unrecognized, often ignored and generally underrated. It is a fact that the arts are being pushed to the curricula periphery,” Martin seriously charged. He reflected on changes in the existing Namibian arts curriculum in schools. “The reason for these changes is that art is first and foremost a developmental subject because it is difficult to prescribe a rigid progression. As the learner develops, the command of the art topics and expression should become more sophisticated. As a result the duplication of learning objectives and basic competencies that was evident in the old syllabuses have been avoided,” he said. According to the Finnish delegation art and skills subjects have equal positions with mathematics and science in their education system. The Minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba, urged Namibian artists to take up the challenges offered by arts in education. “We encourage and support efforts to promote arts and culture in our schools so much so that we are all the time expanding our efforts. We need to get more Namibian artists involved in our efforts,” said Minister Mbumba, who received copies of four old books as a gift from the Finnish delegation. “I see this one-day workshop between Oruuano Artists Union and the Finnish delegation as an important starting point for introducing arts back to schools in Namibia,” said the Finnish ChargÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© d’Affaires, Seija Kinni-Huttunen at the same occasion last Friday. According to her the Finnish government feels strongly about arts and culture and has been supporting art efforts by the local union and other community art and culture promoters for a number of years and will continue to do so. Banana Shekupe, president of Oruuano Artists Union, emphasized the fact that Namibian school-going children are still marginalized because they do not have access to proper arts education. “It is imperative that the whole education system in the country be readjusted to accommodate the creative hopes, dreams and aspiration of learners. My union can do much more to assist in these efforts, if we are financially supported by government and other stakeholders,” Shekupe said. A formal agreement of assistance to the Oruuano Artists Union was signed between the two delegations. The union will be assisted by the Finns to help implement arts education in Namibian schools.
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