Press release: Ground-breaking think-tank at Karoo Writers Festival 2021

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Twenty educators will participate and enact an innovative fusion of Creative Arts and Life Skills during a two-day think-tank in Cradock at the end of July – a bold moment in local education history. This event will provide a curtain-raiser to the 2021 Karoo Writers Festival, taking place from 28 to 31 July 2021. It will be stage-managed by Melina Smit, a Senior Education Specialist for Creative Arts & Life Skills at the Department of Education.

Smit explained that educators will be immersed in a strong new trend in education: blurring divisions between traditional subjects and merging them into more relevant fields of experience.

“This fusion refreshes insights and results in huge enrichment for the educators. To put it simply, the Arts gain meaning from Life Skills and Life Skills gain story from the Arts,” she said. “During the programme, six creative practitioners will present cameos of personal experience, prompting the educators to delve into their own stories, acting out a process which they can take place back in the classroom.

“Poetry is the most immediately useful of the Creative Arts for this purpose and, appropriately, the think-tank is generously supported by The AVBOB Poetry Project,” she continued.

Festival organiser, Lisa Ker, said, “This educational exercise, presented in collaboration with The AVBOB Poetry Project, has been an annual feature of the Festival. In previous years we engaged with groups of youngsters. We have broadened our reach so that the influence of these 20 educators will cascade down to as many as 1000 learners, in the three most commonly used Karoo language groups – Afrikaans, isiXhosa and English.”

CEO of AVBOB, Carl Van der Riet, expressed his pleasure at being able to support this innovative event. “The initiative shows remarkable resourcefulness and creativity, as well as an original and integrated approach to education that fosters much-needed life skills and creative thinking. The AVBOB Poetry Project values the thoughtful and intelligent approach to education that underpins this endeavour. We are glad to contribute to participate in the think-tank via our head writer on the project, Liesl Jobson,” he said.

“Short term, we hope for a flurry of entries from the region in the fifth AVBOB Poetry Competition. Long term, we anticipate seeing many more creative thinkers emerge from the region’s youth who might, in turn, apply this holistic approach to finding meaningful solutions for the challenges that are uniquely their own,” he concluded.

The AVBOB Poetry Competition opens to poets writing in all 11 official languages on 1 August 2021 and closes on 30 November 2021. Entrants are encouraged to register now on the website – For more information on the Karoo Writers Festival, please visit their Facebook page –

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