Unveiling the transformative power of visual arts at Nokuphila School

It’s such a short word, filled with meaning. Art is internationally recognised and celebrated, and it’s for this reason that the United Nations has an annual day in the calendar to try and reinforce the links between various art forms and encourage connection through expression.

15April is the day that World Art Day is globally recognised.  In our corner of the world, the inspirational Nokuphila School in Thembisa is doing their part to ensure that their students are exposed to as many forms of creative interpretation as possible.

The Importance of Visual Arts in Education

The Love Trust is a not-for-profit organisation that founded the Nokuphila School to provide excellent Christian education to vulnerable children. As part of their efforts to make a difference to their students and the surrounding community, the organisation is committed to providing a holistic experience.  They are devoted to giving learners access to education and equipping them for life outside the schoolyard with important life skills. 

Art is important, particularly during a child’s early development. Not only can they learn how to communicate emotions effectively, but it assists visual learning too, creating associations between words and images and providing an emotional outlet.

Learning how to interpret and criticise what they see in front of them are skills that can be applied in other parts of their lives too. Art improves creativity and craftsmanship, as children learn to be imaginative when applying themselves to new creations.

According to research by the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, arts and crafts also improve fine motor skills, develop hand-eye coordination and foster greater independence and confidence.

At Nokuphila, they follow the South African CAPS curriculum, and their arts focus in the Foundation Phase includes visual arts, music, dance, drama and media, and technology. The Intermediate Phase takes a closer look at self-identity, community and culture, social issues, as well as nature and the environment. An undeniable aspect that shouldn’t be underplayed is how fun art is. Aside from the educational benefits, art provides learners with countless hours of joy and is a way in which people express love readily and with ease.

Harmonising Creativity and Discipline

All staff members at Nokuphila learnt recorder music in 2021, as part of their successful recorder programme. This programme was started with the generous donation of recorders from local musician Roland Moses, a Yamaha artist. Yamaha came on board with their willingness to give the educators at the school, lessons so that they could impart their knowledge to the learners at Nokuphila.

Since its inception, the programme has been warmly received. Beginning with one class of Grade 3 learners in 2022, the passion for recorder music has propelled the programme’s expansion to include it as an extracurricular activity. The original group of learners continued with the recorder programme and recorder teacher Julia Chiroodza took the recorder into the Nokuphila preschool, teaching the programme to Grade R learners, who had already performed in front of audiences.

Learning how to interpret and criticise what they see in front of them are skills that can be applied in other parts of their lives too.

Cultivating Culture and Happiness

Aside from visual arts and the power of music, the school is passionate about creating culture and encouraging the links between STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the arts.

With this passion in mind, they offer a Chess Club for Grades 6 – 8, as well as a school choir with learners joining from Grade 4 upwards. Learning to read music helps learners in subjects like mathematics, with the recognition of number patterns. Chess teaches a variety of skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving, both of which can be applied to every other subject in the curriculum.

As World Art Day is celebrated, The Nokuphila School stands proud, nurturing creative minds through the transformative power of visual arts, a dynamic recorder program, and the strategic game of chess. These endeavours exemplify the school’s unwavering dedication to providing a well-rounded educational experience that fosters not only academic excellence but also creativity, critical thinking, and personal growth.