Arts education under the spotlight

WALVIS BAY

05 November 2018 | Education

Leandrea Louw - Arts education in Namibia is progressing at a very slow pace, says the deputy minister of education, arts and culture Ester Nghipondoka.

The minister told delegates from 19 countries participating in the first ever international arts conference that there is a lot more to be done to invigorate arts education.

“This includes the provision of adequate facilities and materials, making the environment where arts are taught attractive and conducive for scholars to develop their artistic or aesthetics sense and to afford them more opportunities to take up specialised courses in arts and crafts, if they have the necessary aptitude.”

Nghipondoka added that she would love to see more training for art teachers and the expansion of qualified art teachers.

“The supply of arts teachers appears to be inadequate in number as well as in quality. The present position is that almost any teacher is forced into service as an arts teacher. On the other hand, artists such as those found under the National Arts Extension Program (NAEP) do not necessarily make a good arts teacher in the classroom.”

She called for carefully thought out arrangements involving the training of NAEP staff and the provision of in-service training for those already in the profession.

“Advanced academic courses of the arts history and criticism should develop a broader appreciation of the arts, and can also be introduced earlier to our learners in schools and institutions.”

Doctor Christina Afrikaner, the conference coordinator said the recognition of arts in all its disciplines decreases in value because of a lack of understanding.

“We need recognition, no matter who you are or how small the activity is. The arts fraternity must start rejecting the abuse of performing for free unless it’s out of their own free will for entertainment.”

She further called on Namibians to recognise the value and effort put in by artists to entertain the nation at all levels.

“Artist need appropriate disbursements for the services they deliver, whether it’s performing or visual art, in order for them to be financially sustainable. Studies have proved that arts education is often devalued. It is seen as time-wasting. Teachers tend to focus on ‘core subjects’ and neglect the arts. In such a case, when will we address the social cohesion utilising the arts?”

Afrikaner also questioned when teachers would be able to discover the enclosed wealth if they don’t explore, experience and have a real look at the value of the arts.

She emphasised that high quality and persistent teacher professional development for arts teachers in all disciplines lacked.

“Our arts teachers need to be trained to acquire the skills, knowledge and temperament to become catalysts of arts in social cohesion. Learners should be prepared as full-fledged artists. They just might become our researchers, authors in arts and pioneers in the field. In addition to that we need empowered learners, future designers and manufacturers who will use their creative skills and minds to change the import and export of our minerals and do us proud.”

The five-day conference hosted by the ministry of education, arts and culture in collaboration with the International Society for Education through Arts (InSea) under the theme ‘Building social cohesion through arts education’ concluded on Friday afternoon at the Narraville Community Hall.

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