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Media Release

23 February, 2007

Arts and Culture Focus Schools and Music Centres *

The implementation of the new National Curriculum has provided an opportunity for the development of focus schools, which provide redress and access for learners in various educational fields.The implementation of the new National Curriculum has provided an opportunity for the development of focus schools, which provide redress and access for learners in various educational fields.The implementation of the new National Curriculum has provided an opportunity for the development of focus schools, which provide redress and access for learners in various educational fields.

The establishment of focus schools is an integral part of the Western Cape Provincial Governmentís Human Capital Development Strategy, which seeks to provide our learners with relevant skills, knowledge, values and attitudes, for them to make a meaningful contribution to the economy and contribute to building communities.

Arts and Culture is an educational field that was not necessarily previously accessible as a recognized offering to many learners. We believe this is a field that can contribute to the development of needed social and intellectual skills for the South African economy.

In line with the provincial goals of iKapa Elihlumayo, which is the provincial governmentís economic development strategy, the WCED aims, through the focus school project to:

increase participation and success rates of learners, from especially previously disadvantaged communities; expand the number of FET learners who qualify to enter higher education; provide access to excellence; and promote career pathing and youth development.

List of Arts and Culture Focus schools:

  • Alexander Sinton (Athlone)

  • Chris Hani (Khayelitsha)

  • Eerste Rivier High School

  • Belhar Secondary

  • Cedar (Mitchells Plain)

  • South Peninsula High School (Diep River)

  • Wynberg Secondary School

  • Worcester Secondary

  • George High School

  • Schoonspruit Secondary (Malmesbury)

We expect these schools to become pathfinders and lead institutions in their fields, offering quality education in their communities. The schools are to ensure excellence; by nurturing learners and providing learners with talent, interest and/or aptitude with comprehensive development.

The following subjects are offered in the Arts and Culture Focus schools:

  • Dance Studies

  • Design

  • Dramatic Arts

  • Music

  • Visual Arts

Whilst it is true that, for various reasons there is a shortage of specialised arts and culture teachers in South Africa, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is implementing a wide range of measures to build the capacity of our schools to meet the needs of the national curriculum in Arts and Culture.

These measures include:

  • Inservice training for to ensure that all teachers are familiar with the content requirements of the new national curriculum, new methodology and assessment.

  • Mid year orientation workshops for all Arts and Culture teachers to support implementation of the curriculum for General Education and Training (GET), which covers Grades R to 9.

  • Mid year orientation workshops for all Visual Arts and Design teachers to support implementation of the national curriculum for Further Education and Training (FET) in Grades 10 and 11.

  • The WCED has outsourced residential, in-service workshops for Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts for GET teachers.

  • The WCED has developed partnerships with a range of institutions, non-governmental organisations and businesses to support for Arts and Culture teaching. The organisations include Iziko Museums, Woolworths and Arts NGOs, among others.

  • The WCED has developed learning and teaching support materials for Arts and Culture subjects.

  • The WCEDís Cape Teaching Institute is providing residential, inservice workshops, in collaboration with service providers.

  • Specialists at the WCEDís Education Management and Development Centres (EMDCs) in each district are organising cluster support workshops for General and Further Education and Training.

Schools and teachers have shown tremendous commitment to developing their skills in Arts and Culture. They have demonstrated their enthusiasm at our in-service workshops and training programmes, despite the fact that we have to organise them during holidays and over weekends.

WCED celebrated the new school year with a week-long provincial Arts and Culture residential course for Grades 8 and 9. More than 100 teachers attended the course from across the Western Cape and further afield.

Given the commitment of our teachers, schools and the department, we are confident that we will continuously develop our capacity to deliver the curriculum is Arts and Culture.

In addition, we have three existing music centres: the Beau Soleil (Kenilworth), Hugo Lamprecht (Parow) and Frank Pietersen (Paarl) music centres - all with proud histories, having produced some of the finest musicians in South Africa. Some of them have performed with orchestras throughout the world.

The WCED has thirty-nine dance posts allocated to the Curriculum Development Directorate. The posts are utilised across all schools and form a learning pathway for learners who have an interest or talent in dance and to prepare them for selecting Dance Studies as a subject in FET (Grades 10 - 12).

Currently, there is a shortage of qualified dance teachers and arts and culture teachers and there are many career opportunities in the workplace for learners with a good dance background. Schools have to apply annually to be allocated a dance teacher. Currently posts are shared between primary schools to allow as many learners as possible to benefit from this special privilege.

High Schools however receive a full-time post so that the dance teachers can prepare the Grade 8 and 9 learners in a Dance Specific Learning Pathway in Arts and Culture, to prepare them for taking dance as a subject from Grades 10 - 12.

However, the Education MEC Cameron Dugmore is looking at the possible employment of more itinerant music teachers at EMDC (district) level, to move to various schools. The MEC wants to strengthen Arts and Culture Focus Schools, making sure that the music learning area is linked to economic opportunity.

All our high schools have computer labs. The MEC has suggested that the WCED looks at installing appropriate music software, to provide learners with digital composition and editing skills.

Lastly; the WCED is in the process of finalising a special project which is the production of a Western Cape School Songbook, intended to promote unity among our schools in the Western Cape. This project is the personal brainchild of MEC Dugmore. Some of the songs compiled in the book, are contributions from schools and learners.

MEC Dugmore believes that not only do culture and the arts present our people with the opportunity to express themselves, to celebrate and critique society; not only does it enhance the holistic development of our learners - it also provides a real career-path to many young artists from historically disadvantaged communities, from which to gain employment and earn a living.

The WCED is proud of the work done by our existing music centres, which offer a unique contribution to the development of music in this province, and a good example of how we could develop music countrywide.

As far as we are aware, the Western Cape is the only province that funds musical training in this way. Our music centres and focus schools make it possible for schools to outsource music training where they may not have the resources to provide this training themselves.

* Prepared on request for the Peopleís Post, 23 February 2007.

Issued by:
Paddy Attwell
Director: Communication
Western Cape Education Department
Tel: 021 467 2531
Fax: 021 461 3694
Email: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za

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