National data collection on periodic reporting for UNESCO’s 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural expressions in Zimbabwe began on Thursday following the successful completion of training workshops on data collection, monitoring and indicator-building facilitated by the National Arts Council (NAC).
In 2005, Zimbabwe signed the legally-binding Convention and is required to submit quadrennial reports to UNESCO on the implementation of the convention.
However, the country had not compiled any report since 2005 due to reported financial and structural constrains and is now working towards submitting a report for the past eight years before March next year.
Data collection and reporting will be done with a selected group of people drawn from various organisations in the culture sector.
The selection of data collectors was facilitated by UNESCO experts Stephen Chifunyise and Ayeta Wangusa under the auspices of NAC.
The Convention’s contact person who is also the Principal Director in the Ministry of Rural Development, Preservation and Promotion of National Culture and Heritage, Reverend Paul Damasane hailed the development saying the exercise will inform future policy development. Speaking on the sidelines of one of the training workshops, Reverend Damasane said policy formulation should be informed by factual and numerical data.
“I think the most important thing that we have to mention is the need to make our policies based on factual numerical evidence. These three days were aimed at training people to understand what to look for in the society within the arts and cultural sector that is numerable or indicative of creative and cultural industries,” he said.
“These people have been trained as data collectors and what they are going to be doing as of tomorrow (Thursday) until March is to open their eyes and see the areas that culture is benefiting the economy through the value chain.
“It is when we understand that that policy makers will be able to make a better policy framework from an informed contribution of the culture sector to the economy.”
Reverend Damasane said the economic contributions that are derived from cultural activities are not always well-measured, adding that culture is a social tool for empowerment.
“You will realise that when you talk of the contribution of the cultural sector to the economy, people always look to the fiscus. In the mind of the Government, we are looking at the economy as a social tool for empowerment,” he said
“To make it sustainable, you need to build it within the confines of the people’s culture.”
Reverend Damasane said it is also important to understand the multiplicity, the variation of types of expressions and how policy frameworks support those expressions in terms of culture and arts.
“A very easy example would be: we want to promote the crafts, something like basketry but do we have the framework for the marketing of baskets that are unique Zimbabwean which makes them appreciable as an international cultural product.
“These three days and the next three months will produce a 30-page document that will first be submitted to us as the Government and we will look at it to see if we are fulfilling our mandate first as the ministry. Our mandate is to preserve and promote culture and cultural heritage.”
Asked if there is enough time to compile an informative document before March next year, the Reverend said data collectors will not be dealing with completely new data.
He said this would enable them to deal with the report as quickly as possible.
“Yes there is enough time, we are not looking at new or strange data. These are things that we are always working with.”
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