Zimbabwe/ 8.3 Arts and cultural education  

8.3.1 Institutional overview

There are two ministries that are mainly responsible for arts education in Zimbabwe-Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education. 

The Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture designs programmes and curricular for arts education in Primary and Secondary Schools whilst the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education oversees tertiary education.

Art education in Zimbabwe has a rather negative image which dates back to the colonial era. Art was usually confined to wealthy urban schools and taught mostly to white students. The subject was often used as a dumping ground for non-achievers and girls (who had few career options available to them outside of marriage). As a result art was considered an expensive and non-academic subject in former Rhodesia. The situation did not improve after independence. Though the government opened up the educational institutions of the colonial minority to the children of the majority, they made no fundamental changes to the content and practice of their arts education programmes. 

Two significant events have led to a growing recognition of arts education in Zimbabwe. The first one is the organisation of a series of workshops and meetings involving ASSITEJ, UNESCO, the Southern African Theatre Initiative (SATI), the Zimbabwe Academy of Arts Education, universities, arts colleges and various informal arts education organisations. This was a result of a regional conference on Arts Education in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 2001, and was followed by the ‘Approaches to arts education in Southern Africa’ conference in Harare/Lake Chivero, Zimbabwe, in 2002 and the ‘Finding Feet’ workshop in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2003. 

However very little has been done in the formal education sector and art still retains a poor image and has not expanded into mainstream education. The government made art compulsory in primary education but have been unable to provide the necessary financial backing to implement the scheme.

Chapter published: 28-09-2011