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     Volume 4 Issue 5 | July 23, 2004 |

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Art as Part of Life's Education

Samina Nafies

Child art has universal appeal. It is the rhyme that comes from the inner heart of a child. It is an open window, the social reflection of a nation. Child art also reflects the political and economic scenario of a country. Where an experienced eye evolves in deep philosophical thinking by observing something, in that same case a child draws the matter in his simple and straight eye without much thinking. This easy and free imagination has inspired many famous artists.

We know that every child is born with an inner creativity. This creativity should be explored as it can be the key to his self-reliance. The hidden talents of a child are developed only through the proper implementation of his imagination and merit and flourishes through drawing and painting. This in turn influences the mental development of the child.

Child arts has been given much importance in the West. Kerschenstien was a leader of the German educational system but in art education he had no influence. In his long working life of 22/23 years he published a book named Art of the Children (1928). After the First World War in 1922 GF Hutler published another book named Child Creativity.

After the First World War child art thrived in the West with schools introducing art as a core subject. In 1938, London's Country Hall first arranged a child art exhibition. Research shows that by drawing, a child consciously or subconsciously learns a lot of things. He develops his mental faculty and on the other hand the subject matter of drawing fascinates him towards the outside world. For example, he learns to love nature, he feels for the animals, etc, and identifies with the various aspects of life. In this way a child grows up and becomes a complete individual. By drawing pictures, a child becomes familiar with many aspects of life which would not have been possible by merely reading books.

Another research shows that the child who draws pictures in his childhood shows better performance in the long run and his experience of drawing helps him in every profession and makes him more skilled and creative. So in developed countries drawing is a compulsory subject in pre-school education.

Every child possesses an individual, independent personality and has a specific view of life, which he draws from using his own imagination. Drawing is a fun way for children to express their emotions and communicate with others. A child should be treated individually taking into account his nature, mental development, etc. In a classroom environment, it should be kept in mind that every child should get equal assistance and at the same time the teacher should not interfere with the piece of a drawing of a child. Mark Twain said that what a person thinks about himself determines his own future.

In developed countries child art has a strong influence and children learn drawing before learning their alphabets.

The art movement in Bangladesh began in 1948 and was pioneered by Zainul Abedin. He realised that child art was equally important. Though in our art movement we have faced a lot of social and religious obstacles it was ultimately established by some prominent artists like Kamrul Hasan, Shafiuddin Ahmed, Anwarul Huq, Shafiqul Amin etc. Child art flourished thanks to founder Director of Kachi Kanchar Mela late Roqunuzzaman Khan Dadabhai.

Kachi Kanchar Mela was established in 1955. In 1958 it first established an art school for children named Shilpobitan, now a very popular institution for children. Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin was the advisor of that school. In 1960 in the Art Institute a child art school was established. In the Pakistan era most of the branch offices of Pakistan Council (the then Charukola college) used to arrange child art exhibitions and competitions. In 1976 Bangladesh Shishu Academy was established to develop the inner talents of children. Today it has branches in 64 districts.

To create more awareness about child art, artist Hashem Khan with some other art experts arranged two art workshops for children. During that time Shishu Academy published a booklet relating to the style and method of child art. With the help of Bangladesh Shishu Academy the first Children's Art Competition was held in 1982 which was known as Ziaur Rahman International Children Art Competition. In 1998, Shishu Academy launched a Biennale International Children Art Competition and another one in 2000. Through this competition, children from different countries had the opportunity to expose their talents and child artists of Bangladesh were also recognised internationally.

The effort to promote child artists continues. Gandaria Kisholoy Kachi Kanchar Mela Dhaka arranges International Art exhibitions every two years in remembrance of Zainul Abedin and Quamrul Hasan. This year 23 countries participated. Bangladesh Shishu Academy is also organising the Biennale International Children Art Competition for the third time this year. In the last two competitions, 12 countries participated in 1998 and 16 countries in 2000.

But this year 34 countries have participated. The participating countries were from Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. From there 13,910 paintings were received and 658 were selected for the exhibition. Thirteen-year-old Nafisa Tanjim Dhima from Bangladesh won the Grand Prix Prize.

Today in our society finding pure talent is not easy and it is our moral obligation to encourage our children so that they can develop their creative skills. An open dialogue should be exchanged and workshops should be arranged for the instructors and parents. The instructor who teaches the children about art should be properly trained. Art as an essential part of children's education should be promoted.

The writer is Programme Officer, Bangladesh Shishu Academy.

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