From surprise visits to schools, replacing white shoes with black, and referencing the Finnish education system as a possible one to emulate, the new Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik has made waves with his fresh approach.
Expectations are running high and the field of arts education is no exception – many are buzzing for the ministry’s plans to open a new Malaysian Arts School in 2019.
The right kind of arts education can do wonders for nation-building, says Dr Joseph Gonzales, Head of Academic and Contextual Studies at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
“We have seen what arts education can do. It is not just about learning to be an excellent dancer, singer, musician and so on.”
It’s also about learning about the different cultures of Malaysia, adds Dr Gonzales, who was Dean of the Faculty of Dance at Aswara (National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage) in Malaysia from 1999 to 2015.
“I was in Aswara for 20 years and played a role in developing a curriculum focussing on traditional theatre and dance. It was shocking how little most of us knew at the beginning. Coming from a Western arts background, I had been missing out on beautiful theatre forms practised in Malaysia.
“When we started we also saw that Malay dance, Chinese dance, Bharatnatyam all had factions according to racial lines. But as time went on, we were able to offer a multicultural education in which our students developed a cultural understanding of each other,” says Dr Gonzales, who has also authored a number of books on Malaysian dance.
Read more at The Star.
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