In this study I aim to investigate formal, non-formal and informal Art education/training in South Africa. The argument will take the form of a comparison between formal art education and informal art education. A brief background about art education in South Africa will be provided. The argument will be based on four South African artists who are Mbongeni Buthelezi, Diane Victor, Sfiso Ka-Mkame and Jane Alexander. The practice of segregated schooling in South Africa began during the seventeenth century when separate schools were first established for slave children. Formal art training for black artists was very minimal. African artist never had that any formal art schools and art shops due to the selling of expensive materials (Younge, 1988:18). Black South African children were introduced to Bantu education in 1953. Younge(1988: 20) states that Bantu education was “aimed at shortening the minds of black children and therefore preparing them for a life of slavery.” Black art education never received any attention even though it was taught at primary school level (Younge, 1988: 20). According to Steveni(1968:13) “education has been described as the initiation of pupil into a world that the adults know to be worthwhile, this could be a philosophical statement”. Education encourages a unique way of understanding the world, but does not teach one how to lead a happy or a successful life. In contrast “artistic training is, therefore, the education of feeling, as our usual schooling in factual subjects, and logical skills such as mathematical ‘figuring’ or simple argumentation, is the education of thought” (Langer quoted in Steveni 1968:13).
Formal education is “that provided by the education and training system set up or sponsored by the state for those express purposes” (Groombridge as quoted by Tight (2002: 71). Therefore, formal education is only given in schools, colleges and universities this is due to the “restrictive frameworks and accreditation systems of this formal sector” (Tight 2002: 72). However, non-formal education “encompasses all organized educational or training activity outside of the formal education system” (Tight 2002: 72). It may be cheaper and easily accessible for providing needed learning. Thus, defined non-formal education, “while not constituting a parallel system, covers any organised, systematic, educational activity, carried outside the framework of the formal system, to provide selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the populations, adults and children” Tight (2002: 71-72). Non-formal education takes place “under the auspices of organizations that do not need to adopt the more restrictive frameworks and accreditations systems of the formal sector” (Tight 2002: 72). In contrast, informal education “may then be seen to cover all forms of learning not included in formal and non-formal education” (Tight 2002: 72). Thus, informal education is “the life-long process by which every individual acquires and accumulates knowledge, skills, attitudes and insights from daily experiences and exposure to the environment.” Informal education is “unorganised, unsystematic and even unintentional at times, yet it accounts for the great bulk of any person’s total lifetime learning this includes that of even a highly ‘schooled’ person” (Tight 2002: 72-73).
Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi was born in 1965 in his hometown called Springs, he privately took art lessons from artist Lucky Moema. He received lessons in perspective and drawing from Moema in exchange for food. Time went on and eventually he began studying at Funda Centre in Johannesburg. Buthelezi originally went to Funda as a part-time student who wanted to be a sculptor. At the centre he met Charles Nkosi who convinced him to try other media such as drawing and painting. Buthelezi had financial problems, for three years he attended the centre part-time, he worked during the week at his father’s shop and...
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