In the face of unprecedented unemployment, one needs to look below the surface — to see what the department of basic education is doing.

First, early childhood development facilities in SA are not available in all places — mostly those occupied by black communities.

Second, the basic education department has scrapped the cultural component of learning — art, sport and extracurricular activities — in favour of academic results. But cultural activities can hone the creativity of children while adding value to their quality of life.

Sport and — importantly — the arts influence society in one way or another. It is art, for example, that influences the houses we build, the music we listen to, the food we enjoy, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive and the garden parks we enjoy for spiritual retreat.

As the arts expose us to new cultures, tastes, perspectives and imaginations, they can also make us more tolerant and receptive.

A country with the drive to see its people living and enjoying a high quality of life cannot remove the cultural development of children from the basic education curriculum.

Sithembiso Malusi Mahlaba

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