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An Illuminative Evaluation on Practical Art, Craft and Design Instruction: The Case of Botswana

In Botswana, art, craft and design has always been part of the people’s lives. It was used to communicate their ways of lives. Chanda (1993) noted that, through the ages, art and craft in African countries has integrated and celebrated different aspects of life, politics, religion, personal beliefs and ways of responding to the outside world. In Botswana during the pre-colonial era, art and craft activities were passed from one generation to another, through informal oral and practical education. Girls learned pottery and weaving from their mothers, grandmothers and aunts. Boys learned wood carving from their fathers, grandfathers and uncles to create objects such as stools, wooden spoons, wooden plates.

Despite the fact that Batswana (citizens of Botswana) greatly valued their arts, the introduction of ‘modern’ education overlooked its importance. This resulted in teachers treating it as a subject for the low achievers. As a result, teachers have not been committed to teaching art, craft and design as a subject in which there is valuable knowledge, understanding and skills to be acquired. There was no syllabus to guide teachers on what to teach. The Report of the National Commission on Education (RNCE, 1993) then saw the need to make the curriculum more practical and suggested that immediate initiatives should be taken to develop the art, craft and design syllabi.

Responding to this report, the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE, 1994) recommended that “a wide range of practical subjects be included in the primary curriculum in order to help students develop an understanding and appreciation of technology, manipulative skills and familiarity with tools, equipment and materials” (Curriculum Development and Evaluation Division, 2002, p. 1). This resulted in the introduction of the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) programme for lower level (standard one to four) in 2002, which is comprised of four disciplines (art and craft, design and technology, music and physical education). The CAPA syllabus’ main aims, are to help students develop creativity skills; problem solving aptitudes, critical thinking competencies, aesthetic recognition and appreciation, psychomotor dexterity along with positive attitudes towards practical work and productivity (Curriculum Development and Evaluation Department, 2002).

The importance of having a curriculum as a blueprint is very critical (Cleave and Sharp, 1986). These authors advise that primary school teachers need guidelines with supportive frameworks to help them develop confidence in their art, craft and design teaching. Cleave and Sharp (1986) explains that “the aim of such guidelines would be to contribute to curriculum cohesion, sequencing and continuity in the arts throughout the school” (p. 44). However, these guidelines could only achieve their goals if educators had sufficient knowledge, understanding and the skills to translate or implement the curricular in relation to the government policies. CAPA identifies specific objectives and practical activities in which students may be engaged to develop practical skills, and hence promote productivity. This contextual feature guided the exploration of how well primary school teachers engaged learners in practical activities. Little research has been conducted in relation to CAPA teaching. Research that has been reviewed revealed that most primary school teachers in Botswana have limited knowledge and skills in CAPA disciplines (Phuthego, 2006; Moalosi. and Molwane, 2008; and Mannathoko, 2009). Thus, having basic pedagogical knowledge in teaching, does not guarantee that teachers will successfully handle other disciplines.

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(Author: Magdeline C. Mannathoko, Thenjiwe E. Major

Published by Sciedu Press)