Shaping Art Education in Africa: Face-to-Face Dialogues on Curriculum, Teaching – Learning and Assessment

POSTED ON: July 14, 2007 IN Barthosa Nkurumeh, Reviews & Reports, Word View

Barthosa Nkurumeh, 14 July 2007

Deliberating Access to Quality Art Education in the 21st Century

Greetings! Or ndewo, as it is said in one of the Kwa language groups. The following are the proceedings of the panel, Shaping Art Education in Africa: Face-to-Face Dialogues on Curriculum, Teaching-Learning and Assessment at the14th Triennial Symposium on African Art organized by the Arts Council of African Studies Association (ACASA) and the University of Florida (UFL), Gainesville held at UFL on Friday, March 30, 2007 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM in Room 2 of the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The panel chair, Barthosa Nkurumeh, writes this report. The panel was conceived as a platform for in-depth conversations on South Africa’s Outcomes-Based arts education and Ugandan virtual learning communities for art education, as a way of contemplating some of the undercurrents shaping art education in the continent. Our ongoing goal is to create a synergy for research and dissemination, concerning strategies to build capacities of art educators and art education programs in Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone African settings. Accordingly, the meeting dwelled on interchange of ideas and examples that address shortages of adequately trained school art teachers, reliance on imported art materials, potentials of the integration of technologies, and involvement of stakeholders of public and private schools in lending formative experience to school art teaching and learning. In this critical report, I introduce the panel members, briefly describe each presentation, and then explore some of the relationships that exist between the four presentations from my positionality as an Africa-born artist/art educator to invite a continuing dialogue. By the “relationships that exist”, I simply imply contemplations on the rhythms, or more appropriately, the dialectic of the answered questions, which containing internal tensions and contradictions with otherness. It is expedient to mention that art education is the thrust of the meeting, but the content of two of the presentations attend to the subtleties of arts education at k-12 levels and the education of the teachers.

The panel members were five and all are art teacher educators. They are Karen Keifer-Boyd and Wanda B. Knight of The Pennsylvania State University (PA), Barthosa Nkurumeh of the University of Oklahoma (OK), and Janine Allen and Ben Botma of the University of the Free State (South Africa). Elisabete Oliveira, an arts teacher educator at the University of Lisbon (Portugal) presented in proxy. Those in audience who continued with the dialogues after the session were Mpho Mabule of the Department of Arts and Culture (South Africa) and Venny Nakazibwe of Makerere University (Uganda). Regrettably, Richard Kabiito and Lincoln Kayiwa of the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts at the Makerere University could not attend because of funding, which was also the case for Elisabete Oliveira of the University of Lisbon, and John Kelechi Opara of the Department of Fine And Applied Arts at Imo State University in Nigeria. The following colleagues expressed an interest in the panel with submissions of proposals; which can contribute to the dialogues in e-exchanges and collaborative research and publication: Rachel Mary Mason (London, UK), Mario Pissarra (Cape Town, South Africa), Mike Omoighe (Lagos, Nigeria), Mariama Ross (Atlanta, GA), Zedddy chepkorir Rop-Makatiani (Nairobi, Kenya), Mala Chummun Ramyead (Moka, Mauritius), Grégoire Kabore (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso), Jorge Gumbe (UK/Angola), Lindy Joubert (Melbourne, Australia), Themina Kader (New Paltz, NY), as well as Ana Mae Basbosa (Brazil), Kasumba Stephen and Philip Kwesiga (Uganda), George Vikiru (Kenya), Anthony Okonofua (Nigeria), and Colette Gounou (Benin).

Some questions were answered, some pertinent issues addressed, but more questions and issues that challenge the coping strategies are on the verge of the continuing deliberation. Interestingly, Karen Keifer-Boyd’s presentation was on virtual learning project in an art teacher education course; Ben Botma’s presentation was on an in-service arts teacher education program, as was Elisabete Oliveira’s. Janine Allen’s paper focused on one South Africa’s Artists-in-Schools project.

The first presentation was by Karen Keifer-Boyd; it tells of the enormous challenge grappled with by international exchange students in their shaping by the use of the concepts of “community”, “identity” and “learning” to create a central metaphor, as a co-referent for art education in their home countries. Keifer-Boyd presented the outcomes of the art education course, that entails virtual learning communities, she taught as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Art and Design at Helsinki in Finland in fall 2006. Nine students, who were on exchange programs, took part in the course. Five of them were from Uganda. Others were from Lithuania, and Germany. With English as the shared language, the students immersed themselves in the current issues, practices, and discourse concerning virtual learning community. The students worked in teams to create virtual learning units for a virtual community they called FIAGULS, an acronym for “Finnish Identity in Art as seen by German, Ugandan, and Lithuanian Students”

(see They looked at Finnish art from their disparate backgrounds, sharing resources, and critiquing ideas. The professor[1] modeled this through facilitation of how to use the technology as a cultural interface. While the site entails each student’s separate research and perspectives, it invites continuing dialogues on the subject.

Voice casts of the Ugandan participants were a part of the presentation; the students were recorded as they spoke about their experiences in hope that it is better to hear their perspectives from themselves. Edwin Tusiime reflects: “I also particularly think using animation (computer images) in the teaching of art education arouses and motivates learners’ ability to hold content. … The question, “which key can I press?” takes me to exploratory learning in art education.” Edwin also addresses a limitation of the virtual community as resource by saying: “However, on the other hand, I basically think use of computers in art education would probably limit the learner’s physical ability to work as it is more intellectual and needs one to first acquire computer skills….” Accordingly, Ben Botma suggested intermixing the virtual-life with real-life context, and spoke favorably of the latter as most productive for the largest part of adult learning contexts within African because not many art teachers have access to the computer to participate in the virtual learning experience.

Ben Botma’s presentation is on the antecedents to the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE), an in-service arts teacher education program, which gives entry to a baccalaureate degree program within the Free State Province in South Africa. Botma presents that a lasting success of the weekend art workshops for children from the Black communities at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, was collaboration between the museum, the Black community and the department Fine Arts at the university of the Free State. This led to the formation of Free State Art Educators Association and introduction of art education to the provincial public schools. At first, the teachers, along with the museum personnel and volunteers, only served as facilitators at the different workstations. Botma’s expounds on the historical development:

“Community members, university and museum staff started a community project to bring some art education into Black schools (1990). Initially the focus was on workshops for children. The focus shifted to teachers in an effort to reach more children. In time the need for a formal qualification in art teaching was expressed. A Further Diploma in Education (FDE) was introduced by the department of Fine Arts (University of the Free State) in 1995. The typical Western Art curriculum was adapted to suit the need of local rural schools. An OBE (Outcome Based Education) curriculum was introduced in 1999. Art Education was now compulsory up to grade 9. Qualification restructuring came in 2000. The FDE became an Advanced Certificate in Education, which gave entry to a degree programme. The current situation requires teachers to teach Arts & Culture, which includes dance, drama, music and visual arts. Interim arrangements have been made to accommodate these changes while a new integrated qualification is planned.”

In his presentation, Ben Botma recalled that imposing the traditional Western art curriculum and pedagogy on the teachers was problematic. There was limited art supplies available in schools because of the priority of funding. Locally available materials, methods, and local resource artists became, therefore, a part of the program. According to Botma, what started as weekend art workshops for children from the Black communities has become a conceptual model for other provinces.

Janine Allen’s presentation develops an aspect of Botma’s, artists-in-schools project that started in 2004 to introduce arts education to needy public schools in the Free State Province, as art was not a part of the school curriculum in the predominantly Black schools. Allen’s presentation focused on the arts enrichment workshops held in schools in low-income communities between 2005 and 2006. The integrated arts project served the rural communities, townships, and cities in four districts of the province. In the role of arts learning facilitators, the funded 30 artists and crafts people visited the participating schools to provide arts workshops to share their skills and knowledge with 80 teachers and 715 students. Essentially, the artists-in-schools project is integral to the Advanced Certificate of Education (ACE), an in-service arts education program administered by the University of the Free State. Thus, the teachers are active participants; using Outcome Based Education (OBE) as a referent, they create lesson plans to teach other students. In the project, the visual arts are integrated with drama (see figure 1), music, and dance with indigenous knowledge systems, as referents. The integrated arts workshops included clay sculpture (see the firing session, figure 2 and the finished works, figure 3), environmental art (see figure 4), and traditional dance (see figure 5). There were also projects in digital photography, carving, plaster casting, mosaic, Sotho dolls, and puppet theatre.

Figure 4: Environmental art session at the Viljoen School in Bloemfontein, South Africa

As noted, Elisabete Oliveira’s participation is a recourse to veritable examples from the Portuguese speaking African settings; or what is in her own words: “…thinking-action tools for self-eco development”. Oliveira proffers results of a Portuguese action-research, as referential for Research/Action in Curriculum and Teachers Education implementation that may serve to create a “synergy for experience sharing and habits change”, principally in Portuguese Speaking African Countries. Oliveira with a group of in-service graduate student teachers engaged in qualitative content analysis of creative arts by children in Portugal between 1948-2005 to better understand the children’s common dynamism with aesthetics, materials, and meaning-making in light of the social-ontological dimensions for curriculum orientation and evaluation criteria. Oliveira expounds:

“We support that decision making in Arts education needs self-eco-consciousness, analogy-modelreferential. This must be achieved through a continuous complexity-creativity process of actualization and eco-compatibilization, undergoing arts teachers and other community synergetic members’ experience sharing and habits change; and curriculum orientation/evaluation criteria networking, in aesthetic material-social-ontological dimensions, in a democratic diverse knowing society, with arts education for all up autonomy age-15, on a life-long dynamic. Results of our Portuguese action-research… presented (formal exercise, work by project, work project) in Visual (see figure 6) and Theatre education-in-community.”

Figure 6, Elisabete Oliveira’s pupil’s free visual work, age 12, 1974.
Wanda Knight addressed the concept of shaping in discussing Karen’s presentation, and posed some questions to lend to the dialectic of the power and privileges assumed by our conceptions of shaping. She posed: “When you hear the term shaping what comes to your mind?” The responses varied, but they all orient the procedural nature of shaping as a human experience. Some respondents associated the term with formation of an object, such as “the molding of something into an approximate sought-after configuration”. Some thought of the word in manner of behavioral-cum-cognitive relations to imply a complexity of action and thoughts in a formative influence, rather “a formative experience” that are unchanged under some purposeful conditions. Some viewed it yet as transformation, such as “any process serving to define the lay of something already in the repertoire” by determinable increments. Others may consider shaping descriptive of any thing done in progressive steps to establish a new state. The panel session met the goals of recounting successes and mapping out “Thoughts and Practical Ideas” that may “lead to formation of forums, projects or other possibilities for Shaping Art Education in Africa”.

The Dialectic of Plenary Presentation

Simply stated, the platform was a sum of the didactics of a formal panel and dynamics of the roundtable discourse. From the presentations and discussions concomitant with literature, some continental and nation-specific developments and emerging needs are discernible. Evans (1975), Blaikie (1997), Kasfir (2001), and Botma (2007), suggest that the continued state of arts education in the primary, secondary, and post-secondary level schools in some parts of the continent compels the need for self assessment of the national needs, and site-specific potentials. There are unassailable needs for the involvement of stakeholders in arts education in the rural schools (Blaikie, 1977), creating arts classroom environment, and appropriate art teaching/learning materials (Onuchukwu, 1994). There are needs for stimulating collaborations among the arts education programs, and in-service teachers (Allen’s, Botma’s and Keifer-Boyd’s presentations) for cross-fertilization of ideas and practices. Allen’s presentation also implies that many arts education initiatives that start as pilot programs fail to expand nationwide and to be sustained, fundamentally because of priorities for national funding. Reliance on imported art materials, Allen maintains, seems less a pertinent concern to the artist-in-schools programs in South Africa. Continent-wide, we consider that the need for imported art materials should be reconsidered to instil reliance on adept local resources to lower cost, ensure availability, and create art from one’s environment.

Some other challenges remain in the disparate countries; they include shortage of adequately trained school arts teachers, and low teacher salary. In the elementary schools, conventionally, the classroom teacher who had no course in art in teacher training teaches art as an extra-curricular subject, since it is not an examinable subject in practice. In exemplary teaching, the activities may entail drawing, sewing and knitting, and making of dolls, balls, mats, and baskets out of the available materials. The teachers have to rely on and perpetuate how they were taught in their elementary school years, some decades ago. Low teacher salary makes it difficult to attract arts specialists to teach at the elementary level. Classroom management is not much of a problem as the areas of research, exploration, and application of learner-centred curricula and pedagogies in the disparate African nations. The children are considerably respectful of the teachers because African traditions infuse such practice. Child-centred curriculum and pedagogies build on the children’s experiences and how children learn are, however, not the tradition in most schools. In light of the challenges, art educators in and outside continental Africa continue to seek ways of engaging in praxis that link the local and global knowledge systems for sustainable art education development in some of the Lusaphone, Anglophone, and Francophone African settings.

It is expedient, therefore, that we further consider the innards of the presentations to stir further face-to-face dialogues, and analysis for empathic understanding of the terrains of the subject. According to G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), every concept (or system of ideas, such as the premise of any of the presentations) beckons a dialogical approach. Understanding, or more accurately critical consciousness, occurs as the dialogical approach leads to understanding lived-realities. Only through such move toward conscientization, as Hegel suggests, is critical consciousness attainable.

First, the presentations lend credence to understanding some of the trends and issues in art education in some parts of the continent but raised more concerns about actualization of the needed synergy for sharing and changing habits for achieving quality arts education in the schools through some of the national education systems. As Allen notes on a footnote to page one of her paper, a program synonymous with the one at the University of the Free State (UFS) was run by the Wits School of the Arts (WSOA) at the University of the Witwatersrand since 2003. I visited with David Andrews, the coordinator of the program at Wits. At Wits, it was a nine-month program (from July 2003 to May 2004), conducted in partnership with Curriculum Development Project (CDP) with funding from the Flemish government. The UFS-Wits module was the only formal arts teacher education program I learnt about in the Johannesburg and Cape Town locale. In distinction to the case of South African universities, the university of Nigeria at Nsukka has a baccalaureate, masters, and recently, a doctoral program in art education. The Wits example of Artists-in-Schools-cum-arts teacher education project was, however, not in operation by my visit in December 2005.

I was also at the Community Arts Project at Woodstock in Cape Town for the 2005 Thupelo International Artist Workshop, a Triangle artist workshop. The claim at the Community Arts Project, or CAP as they call it, is that it emerged in the late 70s out of series of art workshops analogous to the Wits and UFS module. The CAP workshops project was for young people from the Black townships of Langa and Nyanga, and was conducted at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in collaboration with the Department for Extra-Mural Studies at the University of Cape Town. I came to know that between 1960s and 70s many similar alternative arts education centers were established for Black South Africans who were excluded from formal art education through the national education system (see also Blaikie, 1997). Interestingly, Janine Allen’s and Ben Botma‘s presentations expound my outsider-insider scope in ways that remind us of the measurable benefits of bringing together the creative potential of students, teachers, and the unique energy of distinguished artists in urban and rural schools development. Concerning the unique contributions of distinguished artists in arts program development, Augustine Hatar on The State of Theatre Education in Tanzania adds fresh vista to the discourse. He writes that the teaching staff at the Bagamoyo College of Arts in Tanzania is a blend of arts modern practitioners with academic degrees in the Arts and indigenous Master Artists trained in the traditional genres (essentially by the apprenticeship system), some of who have never been through the Western national system of education. Hatar adds that the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Dar es Salaam has adopted the practice of adding the indigenous Master Artists to its faculty but is yet to fully explore it because of rigidity to the classical education tradition.

Considering Janine Allen’s presentation, we reckon that the Artists-In-Schools concept is a resource for the rural and community schools, because the concept has been used across time and places in order to broaden and develop the students’ artistic perception, appreciation and production. The experience is intended to complement, rather than replace, existing arts education programs. Regrettably, the practice is only an evolving process in a few places in the continent. We are encouraged to reason that the more the local communities and arts centers know about its potentials of bringing together the traditional and modern arts for school enrichment, the more they would be inclined to supporting the localization of the concept. Norris (1977), Lipman-Wulf (1977), and Taylor (1980) suggest ways of going about the community-based arts education program. The Web sites, and tell that the alternative practice of providing arts enrichment workshops in schools to meet the curriculum requirements and attainment targets, has worked successfully in a wide range of artistic fields. It has worked in creative fields such as visual arts, craft, music, dance, drama, literature, film, architecture, photography, and new media. As such, it may entail performances, lectures, workshops, master classes, readings and multi-disciplinary experiences. Whether museum-initiated, school-initiated, or government ministry-initiated Artists-In-Schools project, the Arts Practitioners and Teachers must collaborate to provide an exciting learning experience for students. One of the ulterior interests of placing professional artists and arts groups in not only K-12 schools, but parks and recreation sites, senior centers, correctional facilities, hospitals, libraries, and private sites is that it lends to indirect in-service training for those involved. We have come to know that the Artists-Schools co-operative programs when done by informed artists will bring about essential knowledge, arts skills and continuing development of appreciation for the arts in the students and others involved in the process.

Also discernible from the face-to-face dialogues are rhythms of interchange between the local-global arts, individuals, and the wider community of learning, as a sustainable cause. It is useful to bring to mind that the interchange of influences between African and the Western world, and between school and the wider community it serves has, for the most part, been an ongoing private and shared diachronic experience. Devlin-Gascard (1996), Chanda & Daniel (2000), Adu-Pokin (2003), and Kader (2006) retell that the arts of Africa have influenced and been influenced by the arts of Europe and America (see also The Reversalist, Figure 7). Concerning the interchange between African and the Western systems of knowledge in the arts, let us think on the indispensable roles of some pioneers at the early part of 20th century, in providing credence to art education in the continent. The case of Uganda and Nigeria are instantaneous examples. Court (1985) recounts the role of the late Margaret Trowell in the development of art education in East Africa in ways that remind us “art is of the people and natural to the people”[2]; she emphasized attendance to the African indigenous systems of knowledge in art production. Similarly, Onuchukwu (1985) writes on the specific role of late Aina Onabolu in normalizing the teaching of art in Nigerian public schools at the turn of the 20th century. It is noteworthy that as a consequence of his education in studio art in London, prior to the independence era, Onabolu’s mimetic philosophy of art was at variance with Trowell’s cultural synthesis. Cultural synthesis was also the case of the second art teacher in Nigeria, Kenneth Murray, a British artist. Onabolu adopted mimesis as the approach to nullify the misconception that an African could not create in the naturalistic way (Nkurumeh, 2004). In view of the enduring influence of both his pedagogy and critical treatises, Onabolu is considered the “father of modern Nigerian art”. What is apparent from both the Ugandan and Nigerian examples is that the expatriates were more interested in the dialectics of indigenous cultures and Western academic systems as recourse to art education.

Furthermore, the proceedings of the cross-national course on developing virtual learning communities in art education (see Figure 8, from Keifer-Boyd’s presentation) tell of the emergent possibilities within art education in an era of electronic production and present the innovative art specialist as resource. We are encouraged to consider that the teacher may be across the time zone, or can share ideas and perspectives across distances. The question thus is: Where do we go with the successes of the Ugandan virtual learning community at and the South Africa’s artists in community schools program? Where do we go hence? When we speak on the usefulness of the Artists-in-Schools program and virtual learning as recourse to art education, we beckon other specialists to come to the roundtable for a necessary deliberation. We beckon the arts specialist, the community of education practitioners, art historians, museum/gallery personnel, Artists-in-Residence program providers, and all others predisposed to providing greater access and quality to the arts in Africa to come to the roundtable. Perhaps, two of the decisive questions are:

(1)  What are, in-deed, the most pressing needs for quality and access to art education in rural and urban community schools in the largest part of the country and Africa in general?

(2)  Are the Africans the only ones to benefit?

Second, I would like to recount that “art education” as a practice bears different meanings in different parts of the continent, not as the term commonly used in the industrialized countries of the Western world. The term art education is a highly defined discipline in North America. It essentially embodies the curriculum and teaching of the various domains of the visual arts at the k-12 level, training of the teachers, and scholarship in these areas. In some art education programs, community arts and museum education may be integral to the whole art education program. In most parts of Africa, the term is interchangeable with visual arts education, arts and culture education, and fine arts education. The usage is evident in such phrasing as “Training in visual art and craft in schools and the non-formal sector” and “visual arts education in the primary and secondary school level”. In both Africa and the Western part of the world, arts education commonly refers to education in the arts, the content and pedagogy in such areas as the performing arts (dance, music and theater), visual arts (studio art, art history, criticism and aesthetics), and the literary arts (prose and poetry). Interestingly, in the indigenous context, at least from my experience, education in the arts that ranges from creation to appreciation takes place across the lifespan in the home, as well as through community based spaces. Insofar as some of these estates are documented in art history literature, their practical implications for school arts education praxis are, in short, in the “process of becoming” substantially resolved.

The literature suggests that the traditional (classical) African art has a visual presence in anthropological scholarship and the worlds of art history (Blier, 1990; Perani & Smith, 1998; Chanda, 1998; Visiona, et al, 2001) and museums (Ezra, 2001), as is becomng the contemporay African art (Oguibe, 1998; Kasfir, 2001; Kader, 2006). Ironically, almost all countries in Africa are lagging still further in the “process of becoming” independent from the colonial conditions of education, even in the arts. Should we, as Kubik (1987) advocates, look inward into the people’s indigeous knowledge systems to distill pragmatic and theoretical modules for quality arts education across the continent other than the coping strategies to maintain the status quo? Could school art education not work better if anchored on, or at least inclusive of the ways of knowing indigenous to the African learner? Could access to quality education in the creative arts at all levels of education proffer sustainable development in more areas than the arts? Should Africa continue to look towards the West, or turn hence to the East or to itself to synthesize ideas to increase access and quality of arts education? These are not mere rhetorical questions, they seem yawning for due deliberations, now and then.
In the panel deliberation, however, several suggestions for practice were made:

(1) The urgent need is to continue the dialogues to create a synergy for longitudinal projects, pilot programs and other initiatives for shaping art education in the urban and rural schools in African countries; the results would disperse into other parts of a country. Achieving this kind of synergy for sustainable arts education agenda in one country would require collaborations.

(2) One lingering comment was: “They (Africans) are beginning to do (these) things by themselves” but art education is, rather, on the verge that local-global agents for change would be in order. What are needed are initiatives and collaborations among the foreign and national leader specialists, exemplary arts education programs, ministries of arts/culture/education, and institutes of education that are mutually beneficial. In relation to the exemplary arts education programs, we think Penn State, Makerere University, University of the Free State, University of Lisbon, University of Oklahoma, and others should be engaged with one another and beyond.

(3) Another suggestion was that the local art educators should take leadership in advocating access and quality art education in their countries, even through understanding and effectively integrating the indigenous arts and culture into the modern school arts programs.

(4) In the course of conscientiously developing, implementing, and refining project initiatives in one country, such as the in-service teacher workshops project at the University of the Free State, modules and co-referents, (not models[3]) would emerge to repeat a success in similar others.

(5) We unanimously agreed to continue to share successes and unforeseen challenges in the course of ongoing projects, developing and implementing new initiatives to increase the quality and access to art education in Africa. We hope this dialogue will be vital to the next ACASA triennial. Also roundtable/panel/business meetings at a congress such as The 32nd World Congress of the International Society for Education through Art in August 2008 at Japan: would (in addition to our own planned presentations there) help expound the discourse.

Synergy for Quality Art Education

One way of creating a synergy for shaping art education in francophone Africa, Anglophone and Portuguese speaking African settings would be to continue the dailogues and enage in resource praxis through A community of Practice network, a gathering of a kindred work group. The community of practice forum, such as African Community of Arts Educators (AfriCOAE) would bring together everyone in diverse parts of the globe motivated to increasing quality and access to arts education in the continent for a fair chance to contribute. Simply stated, AfriCOAE would work to share our expertise, improve practices and strengthen the position of the arts in context of all of education and the cultural life of communities while promoting international understanding, cultural cooperation and education development in the spirit of mutuality. There is already expressed interest from such an institution as InSEA[4] for affiliation. In progress also is an exchange agreement[5] between art education program at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) and Makerere University. The exchange would enable PSU art education students to enrol in coursework at Makerere.

A Temporal End

According to some Igbo proverbs, “All prayers end in Amen.” Yes, in ways rough and precise we can tell, “What is in the hornet’s nest is in the bee’s hive”; yet, “The tortoise said that many hands at work is enjoyable….” “A beautiful woman with bad character is marriageable; an ugly woman with good character is also marriageable- they will both be wives.” “ -There are various leaves in the forest, but people go in to look for okazi leaves.” “Salute the deaf; if the earth do not hear, the heavens will hear.” “If the yam used in sacrifice does not die prematurely, it will eventually germinate”. Keep in mind, “The fronds of two adjoining palm trees abut”; and that “When one good thing stands, another stands beside it”. On the account of it, “ The female toad said that husband (partnership) is so sweet that when she got married, she carried her husband permanently on the back” for it is over and over again said, “When sleep becomes enjoyable, we snore”. There is yet, another caveat, “Unspoken, blame the mouth, unheard, blame the ear”. Among the Igbo, we do not speak in proverb and explain it.

Accordingly, by counting the teeth with the tongue, the following are a few of the inviting comments by some of the children who participated in the UFS administered Artist-in-Schools workshops as presented by Allen. “I learnt that art, just like science, is all around you.” “I did not realize I could write my own drama and become a producer.” “As a singer, I learnt to compile a CD and write my own songs.” “Art protects my life” and “We learnt that art could be our job one day”. We are encouraged to consider that there will be much support for the teaching of the arts and training of arts teachers from members of the community, when they have seen change in the access and quality of arts learning for the nation’s children. In fact, the arts specialists and the community of education stakeholders in the national education systems need to think on the account on of achieving and measuring the necessary access and quality in arts education for quantifiable tempos to ensue. Understandably, most Africa’s arts education infrastructures, from primary schools to tertiary institutions, are in the process of transition to the post-independence future. Africa consists of nations at the intersection of change and continuity. Lets us all, at once, think together on these things.

Figure 7.The Reversalist: Collected North Texas, Probably 20th Century, Artists Unknown.
Barthosa Nkurumeh, 2005, 9 ft x 10 x 1 ft, mixed installation.
(The piece represents an eager collector of Western folk arts, a reversal of the anthropological equation of collecting used African objects by the Western world for some private and public collections in the West. The mixed media installation addresses the anonymity of the maker of the traditional, or folk arts, as little information was available on the creators of the collected used objects.)


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Cited photographs:

Figure 1. Drama workshop, school Children in a play of an indigenous funeral rite in the Free State Province, South Africa.

Figure 2. A clay sculpture workshop, firing student clay sculptures in the Free State Province, South Africa.

Figure 3. Fired student clay sculptures with marketing potentials product of a clay sculpture workshop in the Free State Province, South Africa.

Figure 4. Environmental art session at the Viljoen School in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Figure 5. Painting an adaptation of a traditional musical instruments for a performance in the Free State Province, South Africa.

Figure 6, Elisabete Oliveira’s pupil’s free visual work, 12ys, 1974.

Figure 7.The Reversalist: Collected North Texas, Probably 20th Century, Artists Unknown. Barthosa Nkurumeh, 2005, 9 ft x 10 x 1 ft, mixed installation.

Figure 8. The Virtual Learning Communities in Art Education course members comprised of university art students from Uganda, Lithuania, and Germany with the course instructor, Karen Keifer-Boyd from the United States (fourth from the right).


[1] Keifer-Boyd expounds: “I taught “Virtual Learning Communities in Art Education: Current Issues & Practices” at the University of Art & Design in Helsinki, Finland from September 14 to December 13, 2006. Students in the international exchange program (5 students from Uganda, 3 from Lithuania, and 1 from Germany) formed teams to develop virtual learning communities with the goal that what they create will be beneficial to art education in their homeland. Issues of accessibility to computers and the Internet, social acceptance of technology applied in art education, and limited knowledge are grappled with, along with the potentials explored such as flexibility in communication, connectivity, access to vast resources, cross-cultural exchanges, self-representation, and networking. We considered the potentials and limitations of virtual learning communities in art education regarding both disconnections from and connections to local natural and cultural environment and the body” (Panel presentation notes, March 2007)

[2] A rejoinder from Elsbeth Court: “What I wrote about Art Ed in the 1980’s remains accurate but too brief, now that at last 3 Ph.D.’s have been written about the Trowell School of Industrial & Fine Art, Makerere University. One was the Outstanding PhD Award at the Triennial by Venny Nakazibwe. Dr George Kyeyune (current Dean of the Art School) has published a précis of his Ph.D. in the Anthology of 20th C African Art Edition Revue Noire (editors: Ngone Fall & Jean Loup Pivin); there is an English version. It has brief essays but is most up-to-date for art education; prior to that was the catalogue for the Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa (1995)” (Personal communication, 24 April 2007).

[3] After a rejoinder from Elisabete Oliveira: “I do not agree when you say that if an experience resulted in one African Country, it should be communicated as a model to be implemented in others. I support that such an experience should of course be reported to the other African countries, but as a REFERENTIAL only: the other countries would build up their own solutions, answering their specific needs (with the specialists and local-specialists Universities advice); rooted in their countries’ background and resources; and never importing directly materials from another country or from the specialists” (Personal communication, 6 April 2007).

[4] Michael Day, InSEA Secretary wrote: “…regarding the process for affiliation with InSEA. …I am sure that all world council members are pleased to learn that discussions are underway for the African Society for Education through Art. Please feel free to call upon any members of the InSEA World Council for assistance or for information. Please let me know if I might be of assistance….” (Personal communication, 8 Oct 2006).

[5] Concering the agreement, Keifer-Boyd writes: “Richard Kabiito, who was both a doctoral student in the class I taught in Helsinki, and a professor at Makerere University in Uganda asked to talk to me about exchanges between Penn State, my home institution and his university. We developed a three-tiered process, one that could be implemented immediately without institutional approval, and the other 2 stages would need to be orchestrated with both institutions. The first was to have our students engage in an exchange, which I will briefly describe in a moment. The 2nd stage PSU art students would study art and culture at Makerere University in a few classes that Richard and I have identified. His Dean wrote a letter to support this, and Richard prepared a PowerPoint presentation so that I could show and explain the program to Penn State administrators, and then we podcasted him describing the courses that we felt would be the best for PSU students to attend, and for them to mingle with Ugandan students. Stage 3 is to bring Makerere faculty and students to Penn State.” (Panel presentation notes, March 2007)