Artists cry foul over STEM project; we can’t all be engineers, activists say

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ARTS activists have warned that while the government’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiative was a good project, it could however, undermine ongoing efforts to uplift the country’s creative arts industry.
The activists said there was a risk that parents, teachers and headmasters would now put efforts into STEM at the expense of other arts and social science subjects.
STEM is a multi-outreach programme which seeks to encourage students who took “O” Level examination in 2015 with at least a grade C in Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics in public schools to take a combination of these at lower sixth level.
The project is being driven by the ministry of higher and tertiary education.
But Tino Hondo said “yet again the country is now getting obsessed with the new kid on the block”, neglecting “holistic education”.
“Everyone has their talent in something,” he said.
“Tese toita maengineer (can all of us being engineers)? Who will sing our music, put together our furniture, sew our clothes, do our hair and sell us stuff?
A director with Jibilika Dance Company, Plot Mhako, said lamented that artists were treated like opposition political parties.
“The government is deliberately ignoring the arts sector at a time the operational environment is not conducive and less supportive,” he said.
“The sad part is that most artists will remain mum even if their basic rights are stepped on and a collective effort to lobby and engage our government becomes futile as we are not generally speaking with the same voice.”
From the film industry, producer Elton Mjanana said there was need for introspection in the industry warning that artists needed to “show real seriousness so that they are treated with respect”.
“I think respect is earned, it is not asked for – especially in this sort of tone. Like Plot says, we are not speaking with one voice.
“We need to come together in a body that represents us and there are statutory ways, thereafter, to get government to listen to us without fail or excuses.”
Mjanana added that there had been attempts at grouping or groupings but rag-tag unions and associations get us laughed at.
“Other sectors like mining and agriculture, besides being generally regarded supportive of the economy, are afforded legislative attention because they have working unions.”Advertisement