Music Education Southern Africa

Music Education Southern Africa shortened to MESA is a two-year project run by the Music Crossroads International. I had never heard of it until March 12, 2011. Have you ever heard of it and that something is wrong with me?
The aim of MESA is to contribute towards the development of the musical infrastructure of Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, by training potential local music teachers.
The bad news is that the project started on November 1, 2009 and will be winding up on October 31 this year and I am not sure if it is on course.
The major objective of the project was to help contribute and enhance professional opportunities for music teachers and development of the music educational infrastructures in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It specifically intended to improve the functioning and quality of music education of Music Crossroads Centers in these five countries besides increasing the number of trained music teachers in the region.
Since the project started it has been trying to identify an international steering committee that intended to add expertise, set the policy guidelines, assist in developing the syllabus and methodology and participate in the evaluation of the project.
Within the five countries, a research team with one international and one local researcher respectively set to map existing music education and commonly used methodologies.
These were biased towards what the young people need and are interested in musically and how these can be catered for in relation to available and emerging work opportunities in the local market.
The team was then supposed to compile the results of the five countries’ research findings in order to identify common areas as well as country specific issues; traditions, instruments and idioms.
Based on these results a modern, useful and standardized curriculum or methodologies would be developed for diverse instruments based on African music traditions and relevant to the five countries.
Where if it is established that banjo should be the lynch pin in a particular country’s musical lessons then be it.
To achieve all this, five excellent music educators, one for each country have been training these music teachers in the established syllabus and methodology and adjusting these to the local circumstances.
The future teachers and the Music Crossroads local partners will then jointly create detailed education plans for each Music Crossroads Center.
Music Crossroads International head for Malawi, Mathews Gaighaye Mfune says this is the starting point.
Because either the private sector or the public institutions will have to take advantage of those that would have graduated through the training currently under way.
I have been arguing here that we needed to seriously embrace music as the tool that will do wonders for Malawi.
I once wrote in one of my entries here of the need to introduce music in technical colleges, I wished you could see the overwhelming support that came from the youth.
I have observed, rightly so, that most youth are venturing into music after exhausting all channels on the job market and the pathetic result as regards what has happened to our music industry is something that I can discuss here now.
I always wonder, what needs to be done to see the people we call principal secretaries, the so called directors or the whole government team of technocrats work towards need-based programmes.
Gone are the days when we have to stick to curriculum and programmes that we inherited from our colonial fathers, come on this cannot fit now it’s like forcing a rectangular peg into a round hole.
We have to take use of programmes like the Music Education Southern Africa (MESA) that can be integrated right into the primary syllabus right up into one for our secondary school curriculum and if it is present in the technical colleges it would only be a continuation.
We do not need someone to go to the moon to bring us ideas on how we can take advantage of one opportunity to end a litany of related problems.


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