Building peace in the minds of men and women

International Arts Education Week

24 May

According to the decision of the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 2011 (Resolution 36/C55), the 4th week of May was proclaimed as the International Arts Education Week.

Art, in all its diversity, is an essential component of a comprehensive education for the full development of the individual. Today, the skills, values and behaviours promoted by arts education are more paramount than ever. These competencies - creativity, collaboration, and imaginative problem solving - develop resiliency, nurture appreciation of cultural diversity and freedom of expressions, and cultivate innovation and critical thinking skills. As a vector of dialogue in the loftiest sense, art speeds up social inclusion and tolerance in our multicultural, connected societies.

Art brings us closer together. A painting, an artefact, a piece of ancestral music speaks volumes about the history of civilizations and the ties that bind them. It makes us to feel and to understand what unites humanity in the diversity of its cultures and expressions and thus contributing to our bright and sustainable future. 

This awareness of art can be acquired from an early age and maintained throughout life. It is with the conviction that creativity and the arts, and learning about them, contribute to the building of prosperous and peaceful societies that UNESCO encourages its Member States to support arts education, at school and beyond. Arts education is a key to training generations capable of reinventing the world that they have inherited. It supports the vitality of cultural identities by emphasizing their links with other cultures, thus contributing to the construction of a shared heritage. It helps to form tolerant and dynamic citizens for our globalizing world. 


"Creativity builds the resilience we need in times of crisis. It has to be nurtured from the earliest age to unlock the imagination, awaken curiosity and develop appreciation for the richness of human talent and diversity. Education is the place where this starts."

—  Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Arts Education Week

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Joint Message from Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO, and Mr Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO

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Ensuring Arts Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic | Educators' Testimonies

In cooperation with the World Alliance for Arts Education (WAAE)


Peter Atsu Adaletey is an art educator in Ghana. The promotion of the arts in education has always been his priority and, from a health standpoint, an emergency response. His longstanding devotion to this mission since 1998 however came to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, as his activities and initiatives depended solely on people's in-person participation. Despite this challenge, he has rapidly moved into online tools and continued educational activities in various ways of approaching creativity. He says that working in times of the pandemic has opened his perspectives to new possibilities.


Bahia Shehab is a professor of design in Egypt. Despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, she quickly shifted her class to an online form and continued working with her students. One key insight she had while teaching online is that educators now need to have more empathy and be more accommodating and kinder in the classroom. Another is that students are learning faster from each other online, since everybody is now looking at a shared screen of each other's sketches. There is, however, the challenge that not every student can engage in the online class at the same level. She thinks the role of educator is to accommodate and customize educational modules to each student and to make learning experiences as accessible as possible to different types of students and learners.     

Jane Nicholas is a music teacher in a primary school in the city of Perth, Australia. Whilst music education was strongly impacted by the absence of presential teaching, the community restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for music education to act as social and cultural glue, to smooth personal and community distress, thereby providing hope and direction for a better day. Her virtual classroom platform helped to connect with her students as well as family and friends locally, nationally and internationally. Having participated in a virtual event for early childhood educators, she was notably able to exchange with other educators on how to empower children through immersive Australian aboriginal perspectives in music education. The circumstances of the pandemic have reinforced her need to be creative, flexible, and proactive about life away from work and shared with others.


Sandra Maksimovic is a drama teacher in Serbia. She has witnessed how the pandemic crisis has emphasized the importance of art education to nurture empathy through engagement with and participation in artistic activities. The pandemic has also been an opportunity to research the issue of mental and emotional health and the rights of learners, as well as explore new forms of communication and education. Over the past year, the group CureForCulture (KULTUROCIKLIN in Serbian), created in 2017, put on a play "CureForCulture 2m" with her present and past students, which is about how children have been coping with the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis of their personal experiences, video materials and research about new ways of working. Another of her projects has been to invite audiences to directly participate in searching for new spaces of dialogue in diverse formats.

Inés Sanguinetti is the co-founder and president of Crear Vale la Pena, a non-governmental organization based in Argentina that develops a social integration programme for young people combining education with the arts. Developed to be carried out in a shared space, their educational and creative activities were heavily influenced by the pandemic. The organization, however, rose to the challenge and succeeded in bringing their live activities into the virtual space, by adapting the working methods. Throughout the year, she and her team were pleasantly surprised to discover that working virtually did not restrict but instead broadened their work, action and exchanges. Driven by their conviction in social transformation through arts, she and her team prioritized the introduction of emotion in the online workshops just like in the classroom, in the community and in the therapeutic field.


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