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BONGANI FOR UNESCO (article first published : 2006-02-28)

Bongani Tembe, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, is to play a significant role in a groundbreaking conference to take place in Portugal.

The World Conference on Arts Education, Building Creative Capacities for the 21st Century is being organised by UNESCO and the Government of Portugal to take place in Lisbon from March 6 to 9. This will be a historic event as it is the first time that this subject will have been given such high-powered attention which will be followed by a call to action resulting from the recommendations made.

When inviting Bongani Tembe last November, Milagros del Corral, UNESCO’s Deputy Assistant Director General for Culture said: “In recognition of your outstanding profile as a renowned artist and advocate for the arts, UNESCO and the Portuguese government have pleasure in inviting you to chair the First Plenary Session on The Importance of Arts Education (Advocacy)”.

Bongani Tembe replied: “I am honoured by the invitation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to attend this most important conference and I am personally delighted that the subject of Arts Education will at long last have the recognition and attention that it deserves. I really believe in the value of integrating the arts into the learning experience of our children and communities.’

The general scope of the conference will bring together representatives of Ministries of Education and/or Culture from the UNESCO Member States who number more than 100 nations as well as various experts, practitioners and researchers. The conference will concentrate on arts education, which implies the teaching of arts practices (visual arts, performing arts, dance, music, theatre, creative writing and poetry).

The aims of the conference will be to define a common understanding of the meaning of quality arts education: to strengthen creativity in the teaching of arts practices thus improving learning abilities of students from social and economic underprivileged areas.

This programme related to arts education is a direct result of the recommendations of the UNESCO’s World Congress on the Status of the Arts (Paris 1997) and those of the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development (Stockholm 1998), which stipulate that the cross-disciplinary role of arts teaching is a fundamental element in education.




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