Lalela is so much more than just an art programme. While keeping our learners safe after school and during the school holidays when they are most vulnerable, we develop their creativity, their critical problem-solving skills, their confidence, grit and perseverance. But in the communities in which we operate we’re not able to work on these skills without addressing the issues facing our learners on a daily basis – and we are not afraid to talk about the tough stuff.
In South Africa, gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the biggest issues we face as a nation and many of our learners have been directly or indirectly affected by it. GBV stems from deeply rooted gender inequality, gender discrimination and gender stereotyping. For this reason, we decided to partner with the #GiveHerACrown (www.giveheracrown.co.za) campaign to tackle gender discrimination and stereotyping through a creative, art-driven process.
Central to the campaign is a curriculum that Lalela has helped to develop, which teachers can use as a means to drive empathy and behavioural change in their students through storytelling, creativity and the arts. It truly is a case of #artispower!
During the April school holidays we implemented the curriculum with our grade 6-12 learners across South Africa. It was beautiful to watch the learners forge meaningful relationships with their partners, break down the barriers of gender stereotyping and honour one other with personal, hand-crafted crowns.
About the curriculum
Gender discrimination has been shown to start in childhood. By working through the metaphoric meaning of a crown, the curriculum aims to tackle the stereotypes and prejudices that promote gender inequality and discrimination through the power of art and storytelling. The process allows young people to reclaim their narrative, develop empathy and a deeper understanding of those who identify as a different gender to themselves and to become a generation who actively supports equality.
In this project the learners discover the symbolic nature of a crown, express the narrative that makes up their own crown and discover the crown of someone who identifies differently to themselves.
The learners are taken through a six step artistic process, starting with discovering the symbolic significance of a crown and visualising what their own version might look like. Learners team up with a partner identifying as a different gender (with openness to those who identify as LGBTQI+), and then interview each other about the symbolic crown they have envisioned for themselves. Then the artistic part of the process begins as the crowns are constructed – using a variety of materials for maximum expression and fun. The finished crown – whether a literal or conceptual interpretation of the brief – is then presented to their partner.
The positive outcomes of this curriculum are extensive: learners explore the tools of trust by communicating closely with a partner, acquiring a deeper understanding, respect and empathy for those who identify as a different gender to themselves. Through the sharing of the crowns, learners start to think positively in terms of gender equality. They also discover that art can be used as communication tool to understand one another on a much deeper level, allowing them to understand and celebrate their differences and similarities.