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Arts education: an investment in quality learning
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Paris | 2023 | 26
Venkatesh, Vivek; Ruprecht, Lydia; Ferede, Martha K.
Corporate author: 
© UNESCO 2023

This paper reviews key research on the impact and outcomes of Arts Education (AE), with the objective of demonstrating how AE and its conceptualizations, methodological approaches, theoretical foundations and applications are closely aligned with the objectives and expectations of quality education as notably envisioned by Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education. For UNESCO (2006), AE is understood to include two different approaches: o the teaching of art as an individual study subject and AE as developing learners’ artistic skills, abilities and sensibilities; o the mobilization of the arts, its tools, methods and stakeholders as a pedagogical approach, also referred to as 'arts in education' or 'learning through the arts.”

The evidence gathered in this paper points to six main conclusions. • Arts education contributes to the humanistic outcomes associated with quality education as captured in Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on education, namely the promotion of values grounded in global peace, sustainability, justice and respect for cultural diversity and the development of social and emotional skills such as empathic concern and perspective-taking, all of which support personal and collective well-being and indices associated with increased societal happiness1 such as healthy life expectancy, freedom and generosity. • The evidence demonstrates that the “learning of the arts” positively impacts learning in ways that are relevant to broader academic and non-academic outcomes(see Tables 1 and 2).It has been associated with improvements in mathematics performance, writing skills, reading achievements, creativity, student engagement and attendance, as well as perseverance in pursuit of educational goals and classroom behaviours. • Arts education fosters teacher innovation and collaboration, positively impacting school culture and can help students gain a sense of mastery and accomplishment and engage with their communities. • By linking formal and non-formal learning settings, including both in-person and digital cultural spaces such as museums, festivals, performance venues and cultural centres, AE supports the capacity-building of artists and cultural bearers, while expanding the pedagogical role of cultural institutions and spaces. • Considering the nature of local and Indigenous knowledge in spanning language, cultural practices, land use practices, social interactions, ritual and spirituality, AE holds the potential to support knowledge revitalization for Indigenous peoples, which have been historically compromised or delegitimized within traditional education settings. • Last but not least, by building on the economic potential of the arts and creative industries, AE creates opportunities for employment and economic growth, which cannot be underestimated. • On a methodological note, the review of existing research highlights the limitations of quantitative methods and the absence of evaluation mechanisms to assess the contribution and impact of AE to learning.

Resource Type: 
Conference and programme reports
Civic / Citizenship / Democracy
Sustainable development / sustainability
Level of education: 
Art education
educational quality