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JustHere | December 10, 2016

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An Artistic Hypocrisy?

An Artistic Hypocrisy?
Shabeb Al Rumaihi

Museums of world repute, exhibitions of renowned artists visiting the city, and yet, Qatar doesn’t seem to recognise the importance of art in education.

Qatar hosts some of the best art exhibitions in the world, brings artists of renown such as Cai-Quo Ciang and Murakami to Doha. Meanwhile, the government is also accumulating pieces to exhibit in local museums. Whenever there is an exhibit in Doha I feel obliged to visit the exhibition, because the government is funding these projects for the people of Qatar.

Whatever the media or type of art, it is important to learn how to appreciate it. But how do you do that when you are not exposed to art from an early age? Which begs the question: why isn’t art part of the school curriculum in government and independent schools? When I was in school art classes were offered up to Grade 9 and we had a midterm and a final exam on these courses. The classes were limited to painting and even that was not taught with any seriousness, but is canceling them in both the preparatory and secondary school system a smart choice?

In the current school system, art classes are limited to primary schools. The intent of international artists showing Qatar is to raise the artistic consciousness of the residents and to make it a cross-cultural education process. This also inspires local artists and encourages younger aspirants. But without these ambitions finding roots at the school level, all these efforts might count to naught. Art courses need to be re-introduced into the school system. It should not be limited to painting, we want courses that would include understanding the history of art, how to appreciate art and it should include learning to work with different mediums. Preparing the youth to become artists or to have a sense of art is important otherwise why would the government spend so much on it?

Dr El-Nour Hamad, former Head of Art Education Department, Qatar University, emphasises the importance of doing this. “Art was the first method of communication since the beginning of time, people used to draw in caves, the Hieroglyphic text represented some symbols and codes to communicate as well. It is evident that throughout history art is linked directly to the human emotional and physical development.”

The main reason for the absence of art courses in the preparatory and secondary independent school systems is because those responsible for school education do not believe that art is something to be taught, he says.

Art education should be based on four factors; art making, art history, art appreciation and aesthetics. Unfortunately, both government school system and higher education (Qatar University) are trying to satisfy the needs of the labour market by focusing on Engineering. National education needs to balance its concern with the needs of society as well, or we might be losing a Leonardo da Vinci as we speak.

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Comments

  1. Great piece by @shabebalrumaihi on alarming moves by Supreme Education Council to abolish art education in school: http://t.co/tcqYsSfOCM

  2. On Qatar’s contradicting art policies: museum development vs art education abolishment http://t.co/zqlBDRN8IN (via @SophiaAlMaria)

  3. Hassan Al Ansari

    I always wrote and write about the importance of education & culture in museums. No need to build museums without educating and sensebilizing about it. No need to build museums to remain empty. Qatar, unfortunately, look to an artifitial image without roots, originality and authanticity.
    It’s difigurated and falcificated.
    They do better look after there own people than to run after outside that looks only to his interests.

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