The Secondary Arts Curricula in Australia, Canada and Malaysia: Issues of Policy and Culture

  • Sharon Lierse
Part of the Intercultural Studies in Education book series (ISE)


The Arts are an integral part of society. They play an important role in our existence and are a way of expressing our thoughts and feelings. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy The Arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits” (General Assembly of the United Nations, Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from, 1948). How The Arts are taught and represented in the school curriculum is a reflection of their aesthetic values and cultural significance. It is through the subjects of visual art, media art, drama, music and dance that students can express nationalistic and indigenous themes. They can also appreciate an understanding of the world in a unique and creative way. Moreover, The Arts and creativity in schools have become areas of interest in order to best prepare students for a quickly changing and uncertain future (Robinson and Aronica, The element: How finding your passion changes everything. Penguin, London, 2009). The three countries have been selected both for their similarities and differences. Australia is a Commonwealth country, has a population of approximately 24 million and is multi-cultural with English as the dominant language. Likewise, Malaysia is also a Commonwealth country, has a population of 30 million and has three main cultures with Bahasa Melayu as the dominant language. Malaysia’s main religion is Islam and it is a developing country. Canada has a constitutional monarchy with a population of 35 million and is bilingual with English and French provinces. Each country has its own government, unique culture and recognised indigenous populations. The chapter aims to compare and contrast arts policy documents from Australia, Canada and Malaysia and to determine whether they are descriptive or prescriptive. Issues of how their local culture is represented including indigenous nations, as well as global perspective are discussed. Additionally curricula and policy were analysed using Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions in which he compared six dimensions to 76 countries ( The research will reveal how there are distinct theoretical and policy differences which have shaped and will continue to impact the future practice of The Arts in schools and societies around the world.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). Population clock. Retrieved from
  2. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2011). The Arts. In Shape of the Australian curriculum: The Arts. Retrieved from
  3. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2016). The Arts. Retrieved from
  4. Cameron A. E. (1969). The class teaching of music in secondary schools in Victoria 1905–1955: An investigation into the major influences affecting the development of music as a class syllabus in Victorian Secondary Schools. Unpublished masters thesis, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  5. Canada. (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
  6. General Assembly of the United Nations. (1948). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from
  7. Hofstede, G. (2016). National culture. Retrieved from
  8. Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. New York: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  9. Human Development Index. (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
  10. Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia. (2015). Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Muzik Dokumen Standard Kurikulum dan Pentaksiran. Retrieved from
  11. Malaysia. (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from
  12. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs. (2008). Melbourne declaration of educational goals for young Australians. Retrieved from
  13. Ministry of Education. (2009a). Ontario curriculum: Elementary. The Arts. Retrieved from
  14. Ministry of Education. (2009b). Ontario curriculum: Grades 9 and 10. The Arts. Retrieved from
  15. Ministry of Education. (2009c). Ontario curriculum: Grades 11 and 12. The arts. Retrieved from
  16. Ministry of Education. (2016). Annual education blueprint 2013–2025. Retrieved from
  17. Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2009). The element: How finding your passion changes everything. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  18. Victorian Parliamentary Papers. (1972). Education Act. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon Lierse
    • 1
  1. 1.Charles Darwin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations