Sunday, May 2, 2010

Gender Equality Through Children's Art

The edited version as in the title was published in Steven's Window, a column in the Weekender of The National newspaper of Papua New Guinea. Friday 16th April 2010, p.5.

PNG school girl's winning drawing in 2007.  Waigani Primary School in the National Capital District was chosen by the European Commission as the site to launch its Drawing Competition 2010. The competition is now in its fourth year. This year’s competition is based on the theme of Gender Equality. The competition was launched on March 08th, 2010 coinciding with the International Women’s Day.

The International Drawing Competition on gender equality has been conducted by the Commission since 2007 with great success. The competition aims to mobilize and raise the awareness of both children and adults around the issue of gender equality as well as giving EU Delegations the chance to involve the relevant national and local authorities in the planning and implementation of the competition, in close collaboration with local schools.

To have the competition made relevant to Papua New Guinean children the European Commission worked in partnership with the Department of Education’s National Literacy and Awareness Secretariat.

Eight to ten year old children in developing countries are invited to express in a drawing vision on the theme of gender equality. This year’s theme proposes to reflect on how girls and boys, women and men, can together make the world a better place.

I was privileged to have witnessed the official launch of the competition at Waigani Primary School this year. I turned up at the school for the launch more out of curiosity than as an invited guest of the European Union. An extended invitation from Mr. Willie Jonduo, the Director of the National Literacy and Awareness Secretariat (NLAS), was reason enough to tag along for the launch of the drawing competition. I joined the official party without knowing the background of the European Union International Drawing Competition.

It was only later, after the launch and during the refreshment that I requested from Catherine Eminoni of the European Union office in Port Moresby to give me printed materials on the competition.

The European Union published a book written and illustrated by children in the 2007 competition. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Europeans Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood policy introduces the little booklet containing all the background information.

Ferer-Waldner’s introduction helped me to understand the history and background of the International Drawing Competition. She says: “We have made this little booklet for you. Take a good look at the beautiful drawings…They were made by girls and boys from all over the world; from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and from an island in the Pacific Ocean.” The completion is so popular around the world.

One of PNG’s own daughters won the competition in 2007. Young Florence Adjouyniope Metta, 10 years old at that time from the Saint Francis Primary School of Koki, National Capital District won the competition. Florence drew a garden of men and women doing the same job. The caption to her drawing reads: In a garden in Papua New Guinea, a chief made man for woman and woman for man. He said we are all equal in everything we do and see”.

Papua New Guinea and Namibia were the winners in the category Africa Caribbean Pacific, while Brazil and Colombia won for the category Latin America, Afghanistan and Nepal for Asia, Georgia and Ukraine for Europe and Jordan and Syria for the Mediterranean.

Praising the talents of the children of the world Benita Ferrero-Waldner says: “I was very impressed by the many excellent drawings … for this competition. Overall, we received more than 10,000 drawings from all corners of the globe. This really exceeded all our expectations. It just shows how many talented children there are, and how many want to contribute to improving the fate of women and girls”.

It comes as no surprise to me to see one of our children win the competition. The many stories and drawings our children do at school can be sent to the competition immediately.

The Education Department supports the artistic development and appreciation of the arts and culture of through its Lower Primary Syllabus on Arts. The Department believes that art is an important factor in social and spiritual development. “Arts subjects at Elementary, Primary and Secondary School levels put this into practice. Students become aware of their place in the community by learning traditional skills, such as storytelling, acting, singing, playing instruments, dancing, painting, drawing, weaving, carving and construction. Arts activities are the basis for exploration and creativity in areas such as artistic expression, such as performance, dance, song writing, musical composition, painting, pattern-making and design. These develop the whole person.” I hope that this competition or any other art competitions are seen as opportunities for our children to contest using their natural talents and skills of storytelling and drawing. Teachers and parents must encourage their children to send in their entries to this competition.

Outside of the Education Department, The National newspaper encourages our young readers to draw, write and tell their stories in The Young Life, a children’s own publication appearing every Wednesday for our young enthusiastic readers and writers.

Parents and teachers must encourage our talented young Papua New Guineans to submit their drawings and stories for the competition.

The stories and drawings in The Young Life have been the source of many of my writing classes at the University for adults enhancing their creative writing skills, editing techniques, and book productions. Our children have taught me and others to write and tell our stories in our own way without worrying about the mechanics of writing and stylistic elements.

Our children have, through their stories and drawings, in The Young Life, made us, the adults appear ashamed for not ploughing the creative national psychic and advancing our skills of writing to make Papua New Guinea proud.

The competition dateline is 14 May 2010. The selection of the winning drawings by a jury of European children in June 2010. Final award announced in November 2010.

For further information contact Catherine Eminoni of European Union office or Mr. Willie Jonduo, Director of the National Literacy and Awareness Secretariat of the Department of Education.

1 comment:

  1. What's the best way to store childrens art work, I have boxes of it. Have looked at A2 folders very expensive.

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