NIED and Finnish-Namibian Society launches arts and crafts manua

WINDHOEK: More than 13 years after Cabinet approved a Policy on Arts and Culture, the first manual for primary school teachers in Namibia on the subject was launched on Tuesday.

The policy entitled ‘Unity, Identity and Creativity for Prosperity’ emphasized the ‘celebration of the diversity of the Namibian artistic and cultural expressions; development of creative talents and skills and acknowledge for economic development.’

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa in a speech delivered on her behalf explained that the Finnish-Namibia Society then signed an agreement in the year 2006 with the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) to further support the implementation and promotion of arts, handicrafts and culture in the Namibian education system.

“The development of the manual was a rigorous process. The manual was developed over two years and nine months through workshops with teachers, discussions with the NIED Art panel members and other individuals, who have interest in arts and crafts education A lot of activities were carried out during the programme to promote and support the implementation of arts and crafts education in the education system,” she noted.

The draft manual was trailed out in workshops with teachers and schools several times and was found relevant to the Namibian classroom realities in the country. The manual is practical and user-friendly, according to Hanse-Himarwa. The content is very much contextualized; provides information on the importance of arts and crafts education on the development of mental functions of children; contains practical and relevant classroom activities; provides instructions for a wide range of activities; provides information on the teaching methodology of crafts and visual arts lesson; and provides information on how to use simple, recycled and economical materials and tools. About 1 200 teachers were trained during the project.

“Arts subjects are important in our education system. Art education strengthens children’s thinking and creativity. Arts and crafts education supports the learning of Mathematics, reading and writing as well as helps learners to control their own lives in developing their ability to solve problems,” she added.

Meanwhile, speaking at the same occasion, the Ambassador of Finland to Namibia Anne Saloranta emphasized that in today’s diverse society, it is important to nurture cultural pride and awareness and maintain cultural heritage in terms of arts and crafts.

“Studies have shown that there is a correlation between arts and other achievement. Young people, who participate regularly in the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement than children, who do not participate,” she added.

The manual was made possible with the support from the Finnish-Namibia Society and NIED.