Arts teachers in primary schools should involve communities where they are based when training pupils in dance and music, a senior education official has said.
Tumisang Thabela, Matabeleland South provincial education director said this last Friday at Mbalabala Primary School during the Jikinya Traditional Dance Festival finals where eight schools drawn from the province participated.
“Let us learn the dances and music from communities where we are based,” she said.
“When you are posted to a particular area, learn the language and culture in that community. Do not try and change them.”
She said when senior education officials visited one school in Gwanda South recently for an arts programme, villagers literally “took over the proceedings”.
“We were reduced to mere spectators. I was so touched to see villagers having the zeal to teach children how the dances were performed.
“They said they had done the dances for many years and hence did not need to learn anything from us,” she said.
Thabela said music and dance teachers would do well in competitions such as jikinya when they involved communities.
She also bemoaned lack of support for the arts from the education sector.
“As the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, we have been focusing too much on core curricular subjects to the detriment of arts and culture. Let us now mainstream the arts and culture,” she said.
Thabela said Matabeleland South was a “culturally diverse” province as depicted by different dances performing by the participating schools.
They showcased genres from the Venda, Sotho, Ndebele as well as Kalanga societies while dressed in colourful traditional attire reminiscent of the past.
Arts and culture play a pivotal role in all communities and therefore should not be viewed as being there merely for “entertainment purposes only”, she said.