Keynote address by Deputy Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi during the NEPAD’s Regional (SADC) Conference on Arts Education, Turbine Hall, New Town Johannesburg

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11 Mar 2015

Programme director

Mr David Ngcamphala: Honourable Minister of Sport, Culture and Youth in Swaziland

Ms Pita Diakité, Ambassador of the Republic of Angola

Ms Prudence Ngwenya, African Union Commission, Human Resource, Science and Technology

Ms Angela Martins, Head of Culture in the African Union Commission for Social Affairs

Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD Agency  

NEPAD Advisory for Education, Training and Youth, Professor Mzobz Mboya;

CEO of the National Arts Council, Ms Rosemary Mangope;

Delegates from all countries

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning

The founding father of our nation and world renowned icon President Nelson Mandela, said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

These words of wisdom find resonance in this auspicious SADC Regional Conference on Arts Education and Training, themed “Arts Education in Africa-Towards Policies and Practice”.

It is with great pleasure that I express my most profound greetings and appreciation for affording me an opportunity to address this august occasion that include amongst others; government representatives from South Africa and the entire SADC region, policymakers, academics, NGOs and the arts fraternity.

In his 2015 State of the Nation Address, President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Zuma, stated that “The year 2015 marks 60 years of a historic moment in our history, when South Africans from all walks of life adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955, in Kliptown, Soweto.”

The Freedom Charter enshrines the hopes and aspirations of the people of South Africa.

The preamble of the Freedom Charter, states “that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”

It further states that “The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened! The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life. All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands. The aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace”.

With regard to investing more in our future, by educating our children and the youth, the President, said “We are already inculcating a new national identity through promoting national symbols such as the national flag, the national anthem and the preamble of the Constitution in every school.

From this year, schools must also practice the African Union anthem, in preparation for the celebration of Africa Month in May, as we implement the African Union decision in this regard.”

The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire who is among the most influential educational thinkers of the late 20th century stated that, “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” 

As most of us will agree, the arts do not only benefit the creator of the artwork, but also those who experience the creations. When a learner engages in any art-form, something that is very profound happens to her/his wellbeing as it provides her with an opportunity to imagine, wonder, create and learn.

Numerous studies have shown that learners who participate in any art-form at an early age tend to live fulfilling lives. 

In contrast, those who lack access to arts education and training in their schools will emerge undernourished at the end of their education.

Programme Director, through the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage (1996), South Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture have made a commitment to actively promote the Constitutional right of every learner in the General Education and Training (GET) Phase to access equitable, appropriate life-long education and training in the arts, culture and heritage, thereby developing individual talents and skills through the transformation of arts education within the formal school system and the development and extension of community based arts education structures.    

We were aware at that time that the provision of access to high quality arts, culture and heritage training was a dual mandate that is shared equally by the two Departments of Arts and Culture and Basic Education.

It was upon this backdrop that both Departments entered into a formal agreement called the Framework of Collaboration (FoC). The purpose of this instrument is to facilitate cooperation and collaboration in the implementation of policies that are not only aimed at improving the quality of arts education and training, but also promoting Nation Building and Social Cohesion in our public schools and communities.

The above scenario dovetails well with the global thinking and recommendations that were expressed through numerous international conferences on arts education and training, and in particular, UNESCO’s 1st and 2nd International Conferences on Arts Education that were held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2006 and in Seoul, South Korea in 2010.

As you might be aware, the 1st conference gave rise to the RoadMap to Arts Education whose main objective was to communicate a vision and develop a consensus on the importance of Arts Education for building a creative and culturally aware society; encourage collaborative reflection and action; and garner the necessary financial and human resources to ensure the more complete integration of Arts Education into education systems and schools.

The Seoul Agenda came through the 2nd Conference and took its point of departure from the RoadMap to Arts Education and went further to encourage member states, civil society, professional organizations and communities to recognize the three important governing goals, together with their concomitant strategies and action plans.

The three governing goals include the following;

·      Ensure that arts education is accessible as a fundamental and sustainable component of a high quality renewal of education;

·      Assure that arts education activities and programmes are of a high quality in conception and delivery;

·      Apply arts education principles and practices to contribute to resolving the social and cultural challenges facing today’s world.

The Programme Director, the above-mentioned UNESCO instruments as well other important strategic documents such as the African Youth Charter, Second African Decade for Education have the galvanizing effect that is urgently needed to provide necessary resources upon which all the SADC countries, notwithstanding socio-economic and cultural differences can draw common ground from, leading to harmonized arts education policies and regional integration.

This will further enable the region and the continent in general to collectively develop a common position that would be tabled at the 3rd International Conference on Art Education and Training – a phenomenon that has been lacking at these international platforms.

Since the promulgation of the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage in 1996, a lot has been achieved even the challenges of moving forward are still insurmountable.

It should be remembered that pre-1994 conditions, as was deliberately created by the former apartheid government did not make provision for the holistic development of the majority of the population of this country.

Arts and Culture as with other technical subjects such as Accounting or Technology were not provided for in the majority of the schools in the Black Townships and rural villages and at teacher training colleges.  

The Department of Basic Education has promulgated several progressive policies that sought to transform the education landscape in our public schools.

The two most important of these instruments were the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) as well as the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and all made provision for Arts and Culture / Creative Arts learning which is mandatory at General Education and Training Phase. We are gearing towards developing curriculum aligned educational resource material which will be enable educators to implement creative arts education effectively in the classroom.  

In conclusion, Programme Director; allow me to make a recommendation of the following education projects which I think could be catalysts for the integration and harmonization of arts and culture in the SADC region and the entire Continent, something that this conference seeks to achieve:  

The South African Schools Chorale Eisteddfod (SASCE) is a mass participation school and curriculum enrichment initiative that not only seeks to identify, nurture and unleash musical talent and develop audiences for the traditional chorale and operatic genre but most importantly; promotes social cohesion.

At the 2014 SASCE National Championships that took place in July 2014 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, I challenged the organizers to begin to develop a broad concept that will expand this project to benefit the entire African continent, starting in the SADC region.

I have recently been told that plans are at an advanced stage to ensure that the SASCE model is expanded outside our borders starting in 2015 with Swaziland and gradually including schools and learners from other countries as well. The technical modalities that accompany this initiative will be communicated at a later stage.

National Identity project which encourage learners to be proud of their countries and become patriots. Through this project we teach learners about the preamble of the Constitution, national symbols, national anthem and its modalities, hoisting of national flag and the meaning of colours of the flag, Oral History whereby they research about the family tree, history of their clans etc.

I would like to end with a very meaningful quote from a prolific Nigerian woman author, Buchi Emecheta, who said, “I usually make sure that my stories are from Africa or my own background so as to highlight the cultural background at the same time as telling the story.”

Thank You!!!  Merci!!!  Obrigado!!!