Education is clearly one of the most pivotal sectors in the development of any country. And yet it is one that many struggle with. This struggle does cut across the whole world largely because we live in a dynamic world with so many changes that quickly present new challenges for policy makers and the public in general. The educational challenges obviously vary from place to place. In poorer nations provision of basic education is still the target while other advanced countries are worried about whether their education systems can help them stay ahead of the pack. To them education is a strategic sector that defines their role in the global sphere. Therefore a lot goes into research and innovations aimed at improving the learning environment. In Africa, it has become quite trendy, if I can say, to focus on ensuring that young people have access to basic education. Many a time a leader will reel off statistics of how many children are enrolled in school as one of the key achievements of their government. This focus on getting in the numbers has often come at the expense of quality and has resulted in having so many graduates with almost no work related skills. Pressed on quality, most governments change the conversation. The new tone was that sciences are what matters and not arts. Many openly referred to art subjects as ‘useless’ because Africa needed scientists so as to support the industrialisation of their economies and hopefully result in the much needed import substitution. Government funding in many places was directed at science education and vocational studies and the arts were starved. However on closer inspection, it is and has never been true that studying arts is to embark on a useless path. In fact every country needs the balance and so ignoring arts can only result in worsening problems like unemployment. After all we all can’t be engineers. Someone has to dance, sing or paint for us. I am therefore impressed by the recent partnership that brings together the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Sports and Culture together with Imbuto Foundation for a new talent search project named ArtRwanda-Ubuhanzi. The project that will run in form of a talent search and competition for creative young people is a step in the right direction. Before anything happens, the clear message here is that art matters and that young people should not be discouraged from embarking on a career path in the arts field. There will be six categories of plastic arts, dance & drama, music, fashion, theatre & drama, cinematography & photography as well as literature. Of course there are many other categories and sub categories when it comes to art but the core message is that the government of Rwanda recognises the important role that arts play in shaping a complete society. What is a country without music for example? How is a country’s culture to be preserved and passed on without great poets? Another aspect I loved about this new initiative is that those selected after a country wide search will have access to industry experts who will mentor them on how to take their craft to new levels. This is something that is so timely because many young people who are into the creative industry need guidance on how to professionalise their services and earn well from their gifts. It is common for people to look down on people in the creative industry either because they do not understand what exactly they are doing or the perception that they are not professional about it. Some are asked to get a ‘real job’ or to dress like they would if they are going to an office. All this comes from a society that is yet to understand and appreciate the creative arts industry. The creative arts industry generates lots of money in the developed countries and East African countries need to do all they can to get to the same place. Is it not weird for example that during political campaigns artistes will be used to pull crowds and then they will be forgotten by the policy makers who will go around telling young people to only focus on sciences? All said and done, I subscribe to Prof. Ken Robinson’s advice that education should be about people finding their gifts and nurturing to full potential. Whether these gifts or talents come in the form of sciences or arts is not the issue here. The issue is what we are doing to develop them so our young people can contribute to a better society. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: www.ssenyonga.wordpress.com Twitter: @ssojo81 The views expressed in this article are of the author.