Arts-Rich Schools – arts in the curriculum

20 Feb 2024

A must-have or a nice-to-have?

How do we know if a school is an Arts-rich school? What is the value of having an enriching arts programme in schools? If every school in the country had access to excellent arts programmes with exceptional arts teachers, would this be a compelling enhancement of education in our country, or would it make little difference to the state of our schools?

ASSITEJ SA, together with the Department of Basic Education, believes that the arts CAN make a difference…

However so few children in our country have access to quality arts in school.

In the latest statistics released by DBE, only 12,12% of high schools offer an arts subject to matric, but the numbers of learners taking those subjects are small, so we are looking at only 4,5% of young people matriculating with an arts subject from Government schools.

It is true that 100% of children are meant to do Creative Arts from Grade R to Grade 9, but the quality of this intervention can be questioned in many instances, due to a variety of challenges… (This is a conversation for another day…)

Why is it that so few schools offer arts subjects (i.e. Dramatic Arts, Music, Visual Arts, Dance Studies, and Design) to Matric? Is it the lack of resources, of qualified teachers, or of understanding of the value of arts subjects from parents, teachers and the community at large?

Studies have shown that the arts have a tremendous amount to offer learners…

Some of these benefits include:

  • Creative Arts is more than a career path, although it can prepare children for careers in the arts and for careers that use the vital future skills developed through the arts (e.g. marketing, communications, architecture, teaching, law, graphic design, game development, advertising, digital media, cinematography, industrial design, fashion design, stage design, arts management, arts therapy, and more…)
  • Arts subjects provide a holistic education that plays a valuable role in child development and lifelong learning. They develop creativity, collaboration, imagination and capacity for critical thinking, all vital 21st century skills.
  • Arts subjects allow for personal and cultural expression, for understanding and analysing these expressions, and for building empathy.
  • Learners are asked to explore, experience and express, individually and collaboratively, how to communicate effectively and make meaning through artistic languages.
  • Arts in the curriculum has been shown to improve literacy and reduce education drop-out levels.
  • Arts engagement improves self-control and reduces behavioural difficulties, particularly amongst vulnerable children.

We intend to look at ways to strengthen the offerings that schools are making to children in an ongoing programme this year.

If you are interested in our work in this regard, get in touch with Yvette Hardie on or Alison Green on

We look forward to working with you to make a meaningful difference through the arts.

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