The Involvement of Ethnic Minority Communities in Education through the Arts: Intercultural Arts Education in Action

By Kelone Khudu-Petersen.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study is based on my previous research which established that primary school children in the Kweneng West Sub District of Botswana, who are predominantly of BaSarwa and BaKgalagari ethnicity, show significantly poorer academic performance and display higher school dropout rates than the average learners in the country. The study is a pilot project conducted at a primary school in the village of Serinane in the Kweneng West Sub-district in Botswana. It aims at investigating the feasibility and efficacy of implementing ‘Intercultural Arts Education’ (ICAE) through a two-year project financed by the University of Botswana’s Office of Research and Development. ICAE is an educational intervention designed by the researcher; it is based on the intercultural teaching of Creative and Performing Arts in collaboration with adult members of the community who represent the local ‘ethnic minority’ cultures. The study seeks to evaluate the impact of the introduction of ICAE on learners’ attitudes towards school, cultural consciousness and academic performance and on teachers’ attitudes towards their duties and the village community.

The findings confirm that peoples of ethnic minority background are disadvantaged in the education system of Botswana due to cultural non-recognition. The study also reveals cultural misunderstandings between the stakeholders, namely teachers, pupils and community members with ethnic minority background. These misunderstandings have an additional negative impact on the education of children in Serinane. Nevertheless, the findings show that the stakeholders actually share a number of interests relating to the provision of education and that they believe they could benefit from collaborating in facilitating the process of teaching and learning.

By observing increased learner participation during the research, and receiving positive evaluation from all stakeholders, the researcher concludes that ICAE has the potential to improve the quality of education in schools where pupils of ethnic minority background are enrolled. Introducing ICAE has proved to lead to more open and inclusive norms of discourse, lifting all involved to more powerful positions with an improved sense of self-worthiness. From the results of the study, the researcher gained the view that through striving for equality and mutual respect, ICAE provides a way to bridge the cultural gap between learners and the school, contributing towards the promotion of social justice and ontological security.

Keywords: Intercultural Arts, Community-Based Education, Social Justice, Ethnic Minority, Ontological Security, Culture of Dealing

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.193-208. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.324MB).

Dr. Kelone Khudu-Petersen

Lecturer, Arts Unit, Department of Primary Education, Faculty of Education, University of Botswana, Gaborone, GCC, Botswana

Dr. Kelone Khudu-Petersen is a female citizen of Botswana, born on the 23rd of March, 1965. She completed Primary, Secondary Education and undertook a Diploma in Secondary Education, (Art and English) in Botswana. Kelone moved to Germany where she qualified as an Early Childhood Educator in 1994. When she moved back to Botswana, Kelone worked as a lecturer for Art and Early Childhood Education in a teacher education before she joined the University of Botswana (UB) as an assistant lecturer for art in 1996. Kelone read for her MA in Art and Design Education in De Montfort University in Leicester, UK in 1999. She then worked as an art education lecturer at UB until 2003 when she was granted leave to go for PhD at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, graduating in 2008. Her PhD thesis is entitled ‘Intercultural Arts Education: Initiating Links between Schools and Ethnic Minority Communities Focusing on the Kweneng West Sub-district in Botswana. Intended for ethnic equality in education, Kelone’s work was a collaborative project between parents in 12 ethnic minority populated villages, teachers and pupils in the primary schools of the same villages as well school administrators and herself (a teacher educator). Kelone Khudu-Petersen still teaches Art Education at the University of Botswana and continues research on education and social justice.

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