Follow Us:

Opening Session

Welcome Address: 

Shri Shakti Maira, Author and Artist

Shri Shakti Maira, artist and author, delivered the Welcome remarks. His speech made note of the current separation of art (and art education) from daily life, a separation that does not correspond with Asia’s history – in which art was a part of everyday life: making everyday items beautiful. Mr Maira emphasized that our schools must play a role in taking art out of the specialized box it has been put into and that we must move towards finding the purpose and meaning of the arts again.

Inaugural Address:

Dr Karan Singh, Chairman, Auroville Foundation

Dr Karan Singh, Minister of Parliament and Chairman of the Auroville Foundation, gave the Inaugural Address, in which he highlighted the need to have an appreciation and understanding of beauty, and the importance of incorporating aesthetic appreciation into education. Dr Singh pointed out that Asia has the opportunity to leap-frog the end of the ugly industrialized phase of development and lead the way in showing how form and function can go together and how functional items can be beautiful.


Dr. Prabha Sahasrabudhe, Director, Center for International Art Education, New York

Dr Prabha Sahasrabudhe, Director of the Center for International Art Education (USA), delivered an opening statement in which he reminded the participants of the importance of the arts in transforming us, i.e. the maker of art is transformed when he or she engages in art.  Dr Sahasrabudhe pointed out the value of building a viable network of educators, artists and experts to continually review the situation of arts education and constantly improve both formal and non-formal education systems.


Mr. Richard A. Engelhardt, UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and Pacific

Richard Engelhardt, UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific, provided an overview of the context of the symposium. He noted that the previous symposium, the Asia regional symposium on Arts Education, held in Hong Kong in January 2004, had made it clear that we are not only interested in “training in the arts”, but are interested in creating a population of creative people. Mr Engelhardt pointed out that the Hong Kong symposium had raised concepts such as the “instrumentality of the arts” and “multiple intelligences” and had shown that if we learn through art we learn in more complete ways. He pointed out that such education is needed to create a society which is innovative, and is therefore able to be adaptive in a fast-changing world.  Mr Engelhardt reminded the participants of the importance of art in building social cohesion and in reinforcing cultural diversity, and emphasized that this Delhi symposium was a chance to define a coherent “Asian vision” of arts in education, one based on tradition and on a memory of the past. This Asian vision would be presented at the Korea Ministerial meeting in November, and then, in turn, feed into the World Summit on Arts Education, to be held in Lisbon in 2006.

Addresses by Guests of Honour:

Professor Yash Pal, Chairman, National Steering Committee for National Curriculum Programme

Professor Yash Pal, gave an address which highlighted the need to revise curriculums with children’s needs and learning styles in mind. Mr Pal pointed out that education should not be ‘delivered’ because learning is created by each child. Education should therefore be provided in a way that allows the child to “create” their knowledge. Mr Pal emphasized that as educators and curriculum developers we should take note of the child’s ability to perceive and discover, and make sure that real life is a part of education, so that the important questions of life are “school questions”. Mr Pal also emphasized the importance of developing appreciation of diversity and beauty and the need to bring art and culture into all kinds of education, so that it is a fundamental part of the way we think and learn, and so that there are no false divisions between subjects and we are able to see the connections between all facets of life.

Professor Krishna Kumar, Director, National Council for Educational Research and Training

Professor Krishna Kumar, Director of the National Council for Educational Research and Training in Delhi, pointed out that by neglecting art in education we are ensuring that there is continued waste and continued disregard for the aesthetic beauty around us, therefore ensuring that humans are a source of danger to the earth. Mr Kumar emphasized that there is a need to change our educational systems because life in schools today is too tough and competitive, with little room for sensibilities. He noted that in the worst schools life is impoverished, and there is continued colonization of the mind.

Concluding remarks

Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Chairperson, IIC-Asia Project

Dr Kapila Vatsyayan, made the closing remarks of the Opening Session, noting that the prevailing division between art and science is false: art can be scientific and science can be beautiful; and that there are elements of symmetry in both. Dr Vatsyayan pointed out that in Asia, and in India in particular, we face a daunting task: how to incorporate the arts into education and break the false divisions.