International Journal of Art & Design Education

Art Education in Zimbabwe

Volume 21.2   2002



Art education in Zimbabwe has a rather negative image which dates back to the colonial era. Art was usually confined to wealthy urban schools and taught mostly to white students. The subject was often used as a dumping ground for non-achievers and girls (who had few career options available to them outside of marriage). As a result art was considered an expensive and non-academic subject in Rhodesia. The situation did not improve after independence. Art still retains a poor image and has not expanded into mainstream education. However, the country has a rich artistic heritage and informal art education has developed to
provide sculptures and crafts for the tourist industry. The government made art compulsory in primary education but have been unable to provide the necessary financial backing to implement the scheme. Only about 80 of the 1548 (5%) schools who have students sitting ‘O’ level examinations offer art as a subject. Third level education has been hindered by the lack of a degree course in art and design, and financial difficulties are again a concern.

This research examines how Zimbabwe coped with the transfer of ‘O’ level art examinations from the University of Cambridge International Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) to a local Examinations Board. The study puts forward a detailed outline of art, culture and art education in the country; this provided the contextual background for the study.