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THE GROWTH OF ART EDUCATION IN BENUE STATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS
1.1 Background of the Study
The definition of art has never been satisfactorily established yet, probably because it is everywhere about us; it is taken for granted and rarely considered. It is however present in everything man makes to please his senses.
Some authorities have however, tried to define art in various ways; Palmer in Usman (2001) defined art as “any individualized demonstration of a graphic or plastic nature, expressing symbols or concepts. Fundamentally it is a self expressive process through visual factors arranged to satisfy the needs of the person who develops them. It is a procedure of technique and design for the conveyance of attitudes, ideas or personalized feelings in visual form”. He explains: it is an integration of sensing, thinking, feeling and expression through the use of various media such as pencil, pen, clay, colour, wood metal to mention a few. Palmer explaining Gombrich’s idea of art in Usman (2009) stated thus:
Gombrich a veteran art historian, anticipating the diffidently in tracking down the term “Art” by the way of concrete definition simply submits that “there really is no such thing as art, there are only artists”. Art may mean very different things to different places and at different time”.
The Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary defines art as a ‘practical skill or its application guided by principles”, it goes further to explain it as: “…application of skill to production of beauty (especially visible beauty) and works of creating imagination as in the fine art”.
A look at the Oxford Dictionary leaves us with the thought of art as being “a human skill as opposed to nature”. It further explains it to mean “craft” and even ‘a practical application of any science’. Leo Tolstory in Usman (2009) defines art as a means of expression. In other words, art communicates the innate feelings of the artist. The expression of ones thought or imagination could not have been fulfilled if not expressed through art. That is to say, if one does not make another person to know what is in his mind, it remains there. Without art, there is no communication. If a thought is not expressed it is hidden in the mind.
From the forgoing considerations on the subject “Art” by the different authorities, one comes to accept that there are some certain fundamental issues that seem to cut across the entire views. These include the fact that Art is a human endeavour; requires skill; and that it results into production of objects.
The importance of art in general education cannot be overemphasized, as Eze position in Usman (2009) regarding the role of art in general education sums it all:
Art today is regarded as a lone subject. This is because the national curriculum on education has not emphasized art as a prerequisite for the overall performance or success in other subjects. One cannot be a medical doctor, engineer, great scientist or even chartered accountant if they cannot draw the basic anatomies of man, the components that make up his engineering models or graphs and maps that direct one to find answers to hidden questions in his chosen career.
However art as important as enumerated above had its share of problem of growth in Benue State Secondary Schools. The major problems are lack of adequate manpower, lack of materials, poor funding and the general negative attitude of some cultures and even government towards it; furthermore, materials and infrastructures to gainfully involve those in the education sector of art are in most cases lacking. At times, with the few staff and students, there are no adequate art materials and studios/rooms for production and storage of art works.
The problem of funding appears to be a major factor that stifles the growth of art education. The excuse of lack of fund from higher authorities causes art masters in most cases to get discouraged and end up not getting adventurous, which could enhance learning.
Attitude of people towards art is another very serious problem. Among some cultures, artists are considered worthless set of human beings, who should not be taken serious when matters are discussed. This attitude appears to be one of the factors affecting the growth of art education in Benue State. This attitude is mostly common in our traditional societies. The elites in education sector have traces of the same attitude of believing that artists are considered as unintelligent. For instance, the practical nature of art made some people take it to be a non-intelligent and un-academic pre-occupation.
According to Oloidi in Usman (2009:51) to many people, particularly the educated ones, it was a waste of time, money and energy going to or spending many years as art students in colleges when art education or knowledge could easily be acquired with short period through the workshop of the roadside artists. It is also disturbing that many academicians or educated elite who were expected to be informed people because of their various accumulated degrees or sound educational exposures were more ignorant about art than many uneducated ones. Of course, the whole reason for equating roadside artists with academic ones was without doubt, due to the people’s inability to understand art beyond drawing, painting or sculpture of figures or objects.
Oloidi further averred that; Nigerian society is very sensitive to the nature of an artist’s profession, his uncommon special talent, and his physical appearance or mode of dressing. His artistic ability was mystified or conceived as something so strange and special that he was believed to function through either institution or some spiritual means. Since the relevance of his profession was also not known or apparent to the community, as mentioned above, his creativity and intellect were thus, by implication, suppressed and unappreciated by the people; though some would pretend to the contrary.
Usman (2009) observed that: the government also, has her larger measures of blame, for example; the Nigerian government was not known for a clear-cut or sound art policy. For this reason, art education became weak and short sighted, and the few college art students were the worse for this.
The writer further averred that lack of concrete art policy also affects the award of government scholarship for training. Scholarships are either very insignificant or non-existent. Where it is given, rather “grudgingly”, it was just a token.
Oloidi in Usman (2009:52) concluded thus: In Nigeria today, people have been unconsciously trained not to recognize the importance of creative practical profession; a legacy of colonial practice. What happened to art in the colonial era has indirectly affected many contemporary practical professions or careers.
The focus of this researcher is therefore to trace and put on record the growth of art education in Benue State Secondary Schools from 1960 till date.
Benue people have art traditions of great quality which have been discovered in archaeological excavations that brought to light the surprisingly rich Kasfir art (Visual Art of Idoma).
Bronze smelting techniques have been traditionally maintained for a long time in the Cross-River region. They were also known by the Tiv who cast beautiful artefacts. The Idoma were part of a renowned kingdom, Kwararafa, probably founded by the Abakwarga and bringing together a variety of ethnic groups. One can put forward the hypothesis that Kwararafa has been in existence since 15th century (according to Palmer in Erim (1992:15) claimed that most Southern nation of the Hausa country, resisting Islamic pressure its inhabitants were probably pushed back towards the South East. Kwararafa was therefore, a kind of symbol of cultural and armed resistance against Islam.
Benue state is geographical situated within the “Middle Belt”. Between the Sahel in the Northern and the forest in the Southern part of Nigeria; the state occupies largely the broad Savannah region of Central Nigeria where different tropical woods are found which can be used for sculpture and for medical and religious purposes.
Geographically, Benue state represents a transition zone made up of a mosaic of wood-land and secondary grassland. This transitional character will also be bound in the culture, art and languages of the region. Benue state is bounded by Nassarawa State in the North, Taraba in the East, Cross-River and Enugu states in the South, Kogi state in the North-West.
The state constitutes the following ethnic groups thus: Tiv, Idoma, Igede, Etulo and clusters of Hausa and Jukun, who in sojourning, became part and parcel of the cultural and political life of Benue state. Religiously, Benue state has three dominant religions in the following order namely Traditional Religion, Christianity and Islam.
Benue state could not witness much due to the fact that art per-se came fully during the 1980s, a year that marked the beginning of large turn out of a number of Benue indigenes from art institutions in Nigeria. The first generation of Benue state art graduates from Zaira art school were J.A. Adeka (1963), E.O. Obo (1963), S.T. Akiga (1970), B.A. Akiga (1971), S. Owuna (1973), A. Ella (1975), E. A. Ejembi (1978), E. N. Akiga (1978), C. A. Okpe, M. H. Ochepa, D.A. Zungwu (1982) and D. K. Usman (1985) and with few secondary schools that offered art in WAEC, this made it possible to extend art education to teach many people. Usman in one of his papers commented thus:
These are the ones who make decision on improving the teaching-learning process. These teachers take decisions in selecting and producing appropriate art materials for use in the classroom. In Benue State Schools, it is not easy to tell what knowledge teachers possess of the criteria for selecting art materials, nor how they select media for use in the classroom since information regarding their reliance on instructional art materials is limited (Usman 1975).
Art in Education
Bisener (1974) notes that if one is well taught, it will develop and refine perception so that the child begins to see objects as visual forms with expressive qualities. Apart from the quality of mind and personality development, it gives students artistic illustration and forms the visual language of education. It therefore becomes imperative that the language of art should be mastered early during normal educational process.
The specific objectives include among others:
Ø Catering for the difference in talents, opportunities and roles possessed by or open to students after secondary education
Ø Equipping students to live effectively in a modern age of science and technology;
Ø Raising a generation of people who can think for themselves, respect the views and feelings of others, respect the dignity of labour and lives as good citizens;
Ø Inspiring students with a desire for achievement and self-improvement both at school and later life (National Policy on Education, 1981).
The growth of Art Education in Benue State Secondary School is the focus of this research.
This paper is poised to investigate the growth of art education in Benue State Secondary Schools and the extent to which it has achieved the objective of equipping students to live effectively in our modern age of science and technology.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Nigerian society is changing at a fast rate and Nigerians have high hopes on educations as a means of transforming art education, Senior secondary school system in Benue State faces the challenges of meeting the needs of youths in particular, and that of a changing society in general, in terms of university admission and in terms of manpower development. These challenges gave rise to art education problems in Benue state.
There are numerous implications to these issues raised above, which according to Usman (2011) if nothing is done urgently art would be phased out of the school time table, despite its (value) importance. If this happens teachers may lose their jobs, and Department of Fine Arts in tertiary institutions may lose their accreditation etc.
The available statistics provided by Usman indicates the gradual phase out of the subject if urgent pro-active action is not taken. He averred that there will be total extinction of the subject if the situation is allowed to continue. He argued thus:
Ø If the subject is not offered in JSCE no one will offer it in SSCE, no one will return to teach it, this is a circle implication.
Ø In some L.G.As art is not offered in any school at all. Creative art is not all taught in the Local Government Area, e.g. Gwer West and Agatu other L.G.As only 1 to 2 offer it.
Ø Lack of qualified teachers has hindered many schools teaching/offering creative arts.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to:
- Determine the extent of growth of art education in Benue State Secondary School.
- Examine the effects of teachers’ knowledge of art education on the teaching of art in Benue State Secondary School.
- Examine the effects of availability of man power on the development of art education in Benue state.
- Examine the problems associated with lack of instructional materials in art education.
1.4 Research Questions
The study seeks to provide answers to the following questions:
- What types of art education materials are available for use in Benue State Secondary Schools since 1990-2010?
- What is the relationship between teachers’ knowledge of art education and the growth/development of art education in Benue Benue State Secondary Schools?
- Does the competence acquired during the teachers’ professional training affect their performance in classroom?
- Is there any difference in the performance of teachers who use instructional materials and those who do not?
1.5 Significance of the Study
- It is hoped that the findings of this study will cause the public to know the rate of the growth of art education in Benue State Secondary Schools;
- It is expected that on completion of this study, the art teacher would update his knowledge on the processes of producing and using art instructional materials to enhance his performance. It is expected that school Librarians would derive benefit from this study in building the school library collection to enhance teaching and learning of Art in schools. Above all, the researcher believes that “Secondary Schools in Benue State” would benefit from the findings of this study.
- It is expected that the findings of this study will be a useful source of information for knowledge and further research in this field.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope of this study covers all art teachers in Benue State Secondary Schools as well as other art professionals in private and public establishments in the state.
It is expected that the findings of this study will be useful source of information for knowledge and further research in this field.
How the methods employed by teachers in teaching art education has impacted on the development of art education in Benue State.
The above accounts of the constraints of modern Nigerian art appearing loathsome, pitiful and discomforting. They are actually experiences, which have stimulated the force and determination that helped build an impressive solid art historical edifice for the continuity of modern Nigerian art.