Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 21:01:54 -0200
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Arts Education Proposals Basis for Cultural Change
By Mziwakhe Hlangani, in Mayibuye, Vol. 6, no. 3, July 1995
Under apartheid, the culture of the majority of South Africans was neglected, distorted and suppressed. Mziwakhe Hlangani takes a look at the imminent establishment of an integrated and holistic arts education system.
The aim of the arts education policy proposed recently by the government is to redress the historical access to cultural resources and affirm the diverse expressions of South Africans culture.
In order to meet the reconstruction and development programme commitment to developing a system of education and training that provides equal opportunities to all, irrespective of race sex, class age, religion, geographical location and political or other opinion.
A recent report of the Arts and Culture Task Group (Actag) developed a vision to build a national democratic culture which reflects and respects South Africa's diverse cultural heritage, traditions and cultures through transformation of arts education. This will be done within the formal school system and through the development and extension of community based structures.
The Actag report said transformation necessitates radical change, which is feared by those wishing to protect vested interests. If arts education is to thrive, it is essential that the process of change be creatively initiated and efficiently managed. This will require on-going evaluation. It also acknowledged that change will not take place until the process was owned by all participants.
The report noted that the separation of the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology from the Ministry of Education was a problem in that both ministries would have to approve and ensure the implementation of the arts education policy.
It suggested that arts be represented on all decision-making structures of the Department of Education. Actag also called for a meeting between members of the Actag sub-committee on arts education and representatives of the joint working group of the two ministries, to set up relevant structures for promoting and fostering arts education.
A major nation-wide research project funded by the Human Sciences Research Council should be launched immediately, it said. This should be action research conducted by arts practitioners in consultation with their local communities. It is envisaged as a study of the value and benefits of arts education, a transformed curriculum, the offering of combined arts at primary levels, assessment and evaluation, teacher education and the development of resources.
The report noted that the entire system of education had been severely fragmented and bureaucratic, with a complex hierarchy of separate racial, social and ethnic departments and services. Financial and policy control was maintained in the hands of the governing minority throughout, and discriminatory funding of education entrenched huge disparities in physical facilities, professional services and the quality of teaching.