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Education is a societal matter!  This Mandela month, the saying is proven true with the grand partnership the North West Department of Education and Sport Development has garnered with two NGOs-  a local based  NGO- called MIET AFRICA and  Children in Harmony, an American based NGO to pilot a project that combines the teaching of music  and development of emotional intelligence to help build a lifetime of gender equity and empathy in school going boys and girls.

The Project, termed Amani (A Swahili word for Harmony) Project will see up to 40 learners (eight learners from five various schools around Rustenburg sub-district) 20 teachers and parents. The project will be held at Bonkwakgogo Primary School in Chaneng village,  Moses Kotane (Bojanala district) participate in B Phase 1 of the Amani Project which runs from 09-13 July 2018.   The goal of the programme is for learners to become active in promoting equity at their schools and in their community through the establishment of Amani clubs. 

The MEC for Education and Sport Development in the North West Province, Hon. Sello Lehari says the provincial department is thrilled with the partnership that will promote life-skills through music and self-discipline.

“Emotional intelligence developed at an early age is greatest tool for self- governance, and for acquiring great leadership skills. It is for this reason we as the department were thrilled by this partnership. We trust these skills will mould our learners as they grow up and carry it for generations to come”, said Lehari.

MIET AFRICA is the implementing partner for the project.“We are looking forward to launching this long overdue intervention with primary school learners. The Amani Project uses music to help learners to understand and manage their emotions, feel and show empathy for others and establish and maintain positive relationships. Building emotional understanding is the foundation for greater gender awareness,” said MIET AFRICA’s CEO, Beverley Dyason. “The project believes that making music with young people can lead to more equitable relationships because when children are given the chance to make music, they can express themselves while creating emotional common ground with others,” she said.

"We have found the perfect partner in MIET AFRICA," said Erik Gregory, Executive Director of the Los Angeles based non-profit, Children in Harmony. "Their existing programmes for learners across the region have had incredible and long-lasting results. Our joint programme, the Amani Project, will be yet another success story and will allow students and adults to learn vital life skills that will help them flourish in their communities."

The Amani Project first brings teachers, student mentors, and learners together for five days of music theory, music practice, and emotional intelligence training. Children learn how to understand and regulate their emotions with the methodology from the Yale Centre for Emotional Intelligence.

As they learn these skills, they also learn the basics of music making, such as beat, rhythm, tone, dynamics, and pitch. When they combine all of their new understanding through project-based learning, true transformation can take place.     

Children will learn to make their own DIY instruments from found objects as they compose music and lyrics for a song about building and practicing empathy for people who are different from them. In doing so, they become what we call ‘Artivists’ - activist artists who put into motion all of the new equity skills they've learned, specifically around (but not limited to) gender. 

Andrew Lewis, Programme Director for Children in Harmony said, "We're thrilled to be partnering with MIET AFRICA for this initial phase of the Amani Project,and we're even more excited to take it to the next level. Next, these new student leaders will go home and open their own Amani Project Clubs, inviting scores more of their friends to learn about emotional intelligence and making music. We're starting in the Bojanala Platinum District this year and will be expanding across South Africa in the years to come."