As the world begins to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO is spotlighting the incredible power and resilience of human creativity during the 2020 International Arts Education Week.
The annual event, which falls every fourth week of May, takes on new meaning this year, as 90 percent of the world's student population, or 1.6 billion learners, are affected by school closures; heritage sites and cultural institutions such as museums, theatres and cinemas are closed, and artists are struggling to sustain their livelihoods.
More than ever, arts education is being recognized as a key part of a comprehensive education. Arts education advances learning outcomes and helps learners build new skills. In times of crisis, arts education is particularly valuable, inspiring creativity, even in confinement, providing psychological support, and building connections between people and communities.
Arts education also has deep, long-term benefits for learners. It helps to meet the diverse learning needs of children, paves the way for life-long learning and fosters cultural diversity, which include advanced learning outcomes and the acquisition of new skills, benefiting learners of all ages. Music, drama, dance, the visual arts and education in other artistic disciplines builds resilience, self-confidence and well-being. It stimulates curiosity, inspiration, creativity and respect for diversity. It can also support child development through quality education at a distance, using digital platforms.
UNESCO will capture, through its dedicated webpage, a wide range of good practices, methodologies and pedagogical tools and activities taking place across the globe on arts education, to assist all the stakeholders in their reflection and action on this important topic. Taking part as well are UNESCO's Associated Schools Network, which connects more than 11,500 institutions in 182 countries, and the World Alliance for Arts Education, with 3 million members around the world.
UNESCO supports two forms of arts education: learning the arts (teaching and learning of the visual and performing arts) and learning through the arts (integrating arts into education to improve and enhance learning). Arts education also enhances, in a cross-cutting manner, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG4 on quality education, SDG 5 on gender equality, SDG8 on enhancing opportunities for decent work and employment through culture and creativity, and conflict mitigation and peace-building, in the spirit of SDG 16.