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The development of learning activities for teaching music using indigenous Tswana children's songs in Botswana primary schools : principles and practice.

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This study aimed to intervene in the challenges emanating from the launch of a new primary schools Arts syllabus which is geared towards reflecting Batswana cultural values in Botswana primary schools. The launch was hurried, before all necessary provisions were made (Phuthego, 2007). Consequently, there is dire need of relevant resource materials, teaching/learning activities and qualified teachers, who can effectively translate the syllabus objectives and aims. The aim of this study was hence to devise learning activities based on Tswana children’s songs as the selected materials to realize the objectives of the existing primary school music syllabus for Botswana primary schools lower standards. This has been done through analysis of Tswana children’s songs, studying their nature and inherent values, on the basis of which culturally relevant teaching and learning activities have been designed for use in Botswana primary school music curriculum. In order to validate the need for a consideration of culturally relevant teaching and learning activities in Botswana primary schools, the study explored the music of the Batswana prior to and during colonialism and how it manifests itself in the current curriculum delivery. The study has also considered the current education policy’s aspirations of instilling cultural values in learners, as well as grooming a rounded citizen who can adjust to the challenges of the 21st century corporate world. The study employed content analysis through which twenty-four children’s songs were studied for their inherent values and musical concepts. Eclectic learning activities which take cognizance of the holistic approach prevalent in Tswana music making milieu, combined with the Rhythm Interval Approach (Akuno, 2005) which advocates the use of temporal and tonal elements of sound as the basic ingredients from which other musical elements such as form, texture, timbre harmony and dynamics are derived were employed. The activities were then tested in standards 1 to 4 to address the music syllabus. The results showed that the songs completely address the objectives stipulated in the syllabus and moreover, provide some extra-musical concepts which are embedded within them. The results also revealed that the Rhythm Interval Approach is applicable in Botswana lower primary schools, hence implicitly suggesting its further possible applicability to upper primary classes because the syllabus has been designed in a spiral fashion, where the same musical concept like ‘sound’ appears at different levels of intensity across all classes. The study recommended that The Revised National Policy on Education’s aim of grooming a locally and internationally compatible learner can be enhanced through learners’ awareness and appreciation of their culture on the basis of which they can later on spread their wings, to other world cultures. Tswana children’s songs have been observed to have a potential to act as a bridge to ease the transition of cultural pedagogy of rote learning to current paradigm of symbolic representation and abstraction of concepts. The study devised twenty learning activities to facilitate the use of these songs for curriculum delivery in standard 1-4.


Thesis (M.Mus.)-University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, 2009.


School music--Instruction and study--Activity programmes., School music--Instruction and study--Botswana., Children's songs, Tswana., Theses--Music.