The UNESCO's Efforts in the Department of Art Education

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This paper was written as a resource document to state and prove that the South African department of education has implemented UNESCO’s recommendations for arts education in the foundation phase curriculum. In this writing there are various sources to state and support why I agree with the above statement. UNESCO has set up various goals in order to encourage the growth of art education in the curricula. According to Seoul Agenda (2010) one of the major goals stated that it was to ensure that art education is accessible as a fundamental and sustainable component of a high quality renewal of education. There were three goals ensured for the development of art education. In relation to UNESCO the art and culture department of South Africa has implemented objectives which were closely relatable to UNESCO. For instance in the South African schools document it stated to “improve the quality of basic education through rich art, culture and heritage programmes (CAPS, 2011). Looking and referring to the above information in order to have good quality education it is highly important that you ensure active educators which can allow the students to gain awareness of their full potential and capabilities.

Art education known as creative arts in South Africa refers to a learning and instructional program which is based on visual art and performing arts. Visual arts may include drawing, painting, designing and sculpture works, whereas performing arts include music, dance and theatre. Looking back at my practical experience over the past three years, Art plays a major role which contributes to success in other subject areas as well. Teaching and learning does not only benefit learners for the sake of art but for the knowledge gain from art education. Looking at the schools I have visited there were many documents that showed that South African schools has implemented quality art education. For instance the school and teacher has provided their students to have access to all core art courses which include dance, music and most importantly art. The school and teacher set their learning standards and goals high in order for the student to gain knowledge and to identify their acquired skill. Another recommendation that were present of UNESCO were that teachers spent enough time on the subject throughout the week. Most Primary school teachers in foundation Phase prepared to teach and explore the aspects at the end of the week. The subject acted as a stress reliever and brought a calm environment inside of the classroom. Besides the art which were presented to them in school. The school provided the learners with out of school experiences by having school outings. They would visit museums, concerts and historical buildings which would enhance their learning, open awareness of the community and help to build appreciation for the arts.

In the CAPS document there are only 2hours allocated to creative art, whereas there are more time allocated to mathematics and English. Despite there only being 2 hours allocated to creative arts, the teacher at the school use their time wisely and have implemented UNESCO’s recommendations as well as the recommendations to the CAPS curriculum. This shows us that the teachers at the school make time to achieve all of the goals that UNESCO is saying as well as the CAPS document.

According to Van Vuuren (2016) in South Africa there are many schools who lack language skills as if it is not their home language and is therefore limited to the quality of art education. However I tend agree more with the division of arts and cultural enterprises which states that art helps to improve learner’s confidence, communication and language skills, while lessons are taking place.

Many educators state that arts can be used to teach other subjects in the school curriculum. For example, a document prepared for the United States Department of Education (Gary 1997) on “Enriching the Experiences of All Children as They Study Literature, History, Geography, Foreign Languages, Math, or Science” proposed that specialist teachers in the arts can “help classroom teachers make disciplines such as history or literature come alive and cultural comparisons meaningful. They can make the principles of geometry or symmetry more real, and they can sharpen the vision of science. ” (Gary 1997)

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For instance during my practical when integrating art with other subject areas, learners were more involved and engaged which lead them to do critical thinking, problem solving and being able to manage their time more effectively. As a student I have found that art activities engage and enhance their learning of english, the more “hands on” I can make a lesson, the more my students stay focussed and the more they learn. In the class art can accommodate learners who are not mentally strong enough but are good in art. These learners tend to be more creative using their hands but are not mentally strong enough. Art education can also help them to gain their confidence which will help them to improve in on their cognitive, emotional and social development.

Another similar discussion was questioned in a 1986 report by the Singapore Economic Committee. As reported by Sylvia Chong, this document advocated educating students “so that they may reach their maximum potential and also cultivate a creative and thinking society. It stressed the role of music and the arts in a broad-based education aimed at developing the ‘whole person. ’” (Chong 1998) In agreement to the state Sylvia has made I have seen the learners develop holistically, for instance it promotes the growth of infant, toddlers and young adults. It encourages their learning and aesthetic appreciation in a free play environment. It is an important stepping stone in the early years of school, which supports the child in various ways such as furthering their cognitive, physical and emotional development.

Art education provides the students with positive learning outcomes for instance students have positive attitudes to learning, which helps them to develop a sense of identity which foster more creative and imaginative ways of thinking in students. It provides them with opportunities to express their knowledge, feelings and ideas.

Jensen (2001) say’s that art education is the process of learning different media and formats of artwork and different movements and styles throughout art history. In relation to my training at varsity the type of educations should be taught by art teachers which create practical experiences for the students. For instance such as showing how to use the different tools to create artwork or trying to understand how art is and how it should be appreciated. In the South Africa foundation phase curriculum there are requirements that focusses on basic types such as drawing, painting and sculpture. In the classroom when an art lesson is in progression the teacher will often divide the lesson into two parts where the students will experience a theoretical and practical experience.

Art may be a language of visual pictures that everybody should learn to browse. In Art classes visual images are made and are studied increasingly. These images affect the daily behaviour, hopes, opinions and ultimate ideals (Freedom, 2003). In the classroom the student who is unable to understand or read various text are taught incorrectly. The images helps the student who is struggling to talk about the visual, understand it and correspond to it. Therefor art helps to stimulate the language and written skills about visual images.

Another goal which was set out by UNESCO and was implemented in South Africans schools was that it should be recognized and develop the social and cultural well-being dimensions of art education. In South Africans schools you would be barely be able to successfully achieve this, therefore in the South Africa curriculum they have created and made sure that teaching the values at home, family, play, work, the individual’s society and involvement in the nature helps the student to see art in the past and present concerns in one’s life. All the students should be given the opportunity to see that art can be expressed in the highest aspirations of the human spirit. This will help the student to be in the position and understand to choose what is right and what is good.

Art education encompasses all the visual and performing arts delivered in a standard based, sequential approach by a qualified instructor as part of the core curriculum. (Garrett, 2009). In the South African curriculum it is compulsory that teachers and student teachers undergo professional training or workshops. In order to teach art education in schools. Research has mentioned several reasons to why teachers should undergo training. There is a high rate of schools in South Africa who has employed teachers with an art background or training in art education. These educators and members of the school make links to the life skills art curriculum and other areas of the school curriculum. The school extend art in school programs involving partnerships between schools, musicians, local centres and other artists which has been involved in the community. It is important for pre-training to ensure that art can be integrated in a meaningful way and not be taught for reasons of entertainment. The essential value of the different forms of art must be conserved and assimilated through the different art principles and elements. In South Africa universities they include modules that cover the various forms of art, which is music, art and dance. However it is not possible to learn the skill through a theoretical framework. Teachers and students need to reflect back on their lessons on how to improve their mistakes and challenges to increase their confidence and competence.

There has been research and evidence which has showed that art education is implemented in the South African curriculum. The implementation has resulted in better school attendance and various educational outcomes, such as the values of teachers setting their expectations high, respecting and honouring language and cultural differences. They have cultural responsive school programs and curricula who has strong bonds between different schools and the communities. In summary, with all the evidence I have provided within this essay, it can be seen that the department of South Africa has implemented UNESCO’s recommendations, therefor resulting in the learners developing in all aspects of the school life and as well helping them to develop in subjects other than creative arts.

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