Opening statement by Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO, NEPAD Agency the NEPAD’s Regional (SADC) Conference on Arts Education, Turbine Hall, New Town Johannesburg

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11 Mar 2015

Distinguished guests,

On behalf of the NEPAD Agency I extend my sincere appreciation to you for your participation at the 1st NEPAD Regional Conference on Arts Education in Africa. 

1.    The present NEPAD Regional Conference is regarded as an inaugural regional platform for African Member States of the African Union to consolidate an African Position on Arts Education. Such an initiative will continue to involve other Regions on the African Continent to deliberate on the formalization of Arts Education in the Education Systems. In this way Africa’s Position on Arts Education will be another step in consolidating an African Development Agenda beyond the Millennium Development Goals and it will be in line with the aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Common African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

2.    Evidently, Arts Education forms a critical element of re-enforcing high quality education for all.  The importance and relevance to this Regional Conference is to engage on specific Continental, International Processes and Cultural Policy Frameworks by our African countries, on four (4) main points.

              i.        Regional Integration, through influencing the creation of cohesive societies in the Regions

            ii.        Designing  curriculum and educational systems renewal at the Regional level to address Arts Education

           iii.        Establish linkages between formal and non-formal Arts Education, highlighting the potential source of creativity and socio-economic development   

           iv.   Increase Women and Youth involvement towards strengthening the educational, cultural and sustainable perspectives

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In African cultures, Arts are integral to our lives. Educational content and structure should not only reflect the characteristics of each art form but also provide the artistic means to practice communication and to interact within various cultural, social and historical contexts.


Globally, it is recognised that Arts Education is not only about learning through arts and cultures but it is also about learning in arts and cultures.

3.    Learning through the arts and culture expresses itself through lifestyles, behaviour patterns, and heritage, knowledge and belief systems. Learning through the arts and culture and creativity enriches education, stimulates imagination and innovation, and provides individuals with exciting and fulfilling experiences that they build on throughout their lives.

4.    Learning in the Arts and Culture includes teaching and learning in the Arts and Culture.  It is an approach that can attract significant growth and promise to our Continent by means of regularly modifying traditional arts to adapt to changes in demography, technology, society and the economy.

Distinguished guests,

To highlight the importance of arts education for our societies, allow me to quote the Director General of UNESCO (Irina BOKOVA) who said:

5.    “Arts Education is a key to training generations capable of reinventing the world that they inherited.  It supports the vitality of cultural identities by emphasizing their links with other cultures, thus contributing to the construction of a shared heritage.  It helps to form tolerant and dynamic citizens for our globalising world”

African leaders are committed for a real and structural transformation of this continent towards the next 50 years.

6.    To address these structural transformation challenges the following four  points must be considered.

              i.        Education policies need to be adapted to the way we tackle this challenge – by ensuring that the Road Map and Agenda are widely disseminated and discussed by all stakeholders, policy makers and arts educators

            ii.        Given the wealth and diversity of our cultures, we need an approach that integrates and revitalises this creative role across the curriculum, by means of partnerships between schools and art institutions.  The ‘power’ of Arts could enable robust interventions in social transformation which should be widely acknowledged and effectively promoted

           iii.        ‘Build partnerships within and beyond governments to strengthen the role of arts education in society, especially across educational, cultural, social, health, industrial and communication sectors’

           iv.        ‘Engage private sector entities including foundations and philanthropic agencies as partners in the development of arts education programmes.’

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Beyond these policy measures, a concrete mind-set need to be established towards the full mainstreaming of Arts Education is our everyday lives.

7.    In this regard, the link between inclusive democratic institutions, public support to establish education and the involvement of civil society organisations are essential. In essence, the AU Agenda 2063 has a special focus on cultural issues by reaffirming the continental commitment regarding the Pan African cultural assets mainly arts education. The African creative arts will be celebrated throughout the continent and the diaspora and contribute significantly to self-awareness, well-being and prosperity.

In conclusion, there is a strong connection between imagination, creativity and innovation, these qualities are present in every human and can be nurtured and applied.


8.    I hope that this Conference will reflect fruitful and vigorous discussions and engagements on Arts Education in Africa that will pave an African Voice in the spirit of African Renaissance and Pan Africanism as articulated by the African Union. Africa can and must transform itself from a follower into a pace-setter. If there is any field in which the Continent can make a major contribution to education, it is in the field of Arts.

I thank you !