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South Africa: UCT Alumni Social Enterprise Aims to Disrupt Arts Education Landscape in SA

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South Africa: UCT Alumni Social Enterprise Aims to Disrupt Arts Education Landscape in SA

AK Arts & Leadership Academy (AKALA) is on a mission to disrupt the arts education landscape in the country by expanding access to arts education and combating arts teacher unemployment. Inspired by the radical leadership of fallen apartheid activist Ashley Kriel, AKALA is a non-profit company (NPC) founded by University of Cape Town (UCT) alumni.

Through human-centred approaches and co-creation with stakeholders, AKALA aims to advocate for the integration of the arts across all spaces of learning and design, implement arts education programmes, and capacitate the professional development of arts education students and graduates. This as a way of mitigating the crisis faced by South Africa’s arts education system, which is beset with a looming shortage of qualified arts teachers, a declining status of arts education, and limited employment opportunities for newly graduated specialist art teachers.

AKALA recently held its first event, The Co-Creation Station, where stakeholders in arts education discussed and co-created the organization’s mission, vision, and values ​​using design thinking. This workshop gave rise to AKALA’s Big Audacious Goal Statement, which serves as a reminder to always co-create with those who stand to benefit from the organization’s work.

Combating challenges

Baseline research conducted by AKALA revealed that only two in 10 schools in the Western Cape offer specialist art education subjects, with 42 out of 50 teachers who teach art subjects not suitably skilled or qualified. Furthermore, there is a looming arts teacher shortage, with half of the country’s current working teaching force set to retire by 2030.