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The UNESCO Arts Education programme takes on particular significance on apprenticeship of the arts and creativity in education systems, formal and non-formal, and encourages an inter-disciplinary approach of arts, creativity and culture to be mainstreamed into various learning environments.
UNESCO’s International appeal for the Promotion of Arts Education in Schools (1999, Paris, 30th Session of UNESCO’s General Conference) initiated the Organization’s official position in promoting the cross-disciplinary role of arts teaching as a fundamental element in education, especially in strengthening the promotion of cultural diversity.
The Arts in most, if not all, cultures are integral to life: function, creation and learning are intertwined. The Arts withholds the potential to being fundamentally instrumental, in both formal and non-formal ways, as vehicles of knowledge and the methods of learning different disciplines.
This instrumental approach to Arts Education neither limits the Arts as a supplementary educational tool, nor simply aims at bringing arts into curricula as the main content or a study subject.
UNESCO basically promotes two main approaches to Arts Education, which can be implemented at the same time and need not be distinct. The “learning through the arts/culture” approach demonstrates how we can utilize artistic expressions and cultural resources and practises, contemporary and traditional, as a learning tool. It targets to draw on the rich wealth of culture, knowledge and skills of societies to enhance an inter-disciplinary approach to learning in a range of subject areas.
The “learning in the arts/culture” approach stresses the value of cultural perspectives, multi and inter-cultural, and culturally-sensitive languages through learning processes. This kind of approach contributes to engender understanding of the importance of cultural diversity and reinforce behaviour patterns underlying social cohesion.
The benefits of introducing the arts and cultural practices into learning environments showcase a balanced intellectual, emotional and psychological development of individuals and societies. Such education not only strengthens cognitive development and the acquisition of life skills – innovative and creative thinking, critical reflection, communicational and inter-personal skills, etc – but also enhances social adaptability and cultural awareness for individuals, enabling them to build personal and collective identities as well as tolerance and acceptance, appreciation of others. The positive impact it gives on the development of societies ranges from cultivating social cohesion and cultural diversity to preventing standardization and promoting sustainable development.