The Oriental Fine Arts Academy of London (OFAAL) is Europes leading examination board for the traditional South Indian Fine Arts. With over twenty-five centres across Europe offering examinations in subjects ranging from miruthangam to bharathanatyam, OFAAL offers students of all ages the opportunity to formalise their learning through preparing for and gaining recognised qualifications. Through a structured programme of study, OFAAL guides pupils through the elementary stages of a fine-arts education, taking them through to a stage where they are fully qualified to teach their art to the next generation.

OFAAL was formed in 1990 begining with a mere 3xx number of candidates sitting examinations in bharathanatyam, vocal, veena, flute, miruthangam and violin. Since then, the examinations have grown, with ever increasing candidates taking exams in new centres each year.

OFAAL was registered as a charity organisation in May 2004 and expanded into Europe where we opened our first European centre in Germany. By 2001, the number of candidates sitting OFAAL examinations in the UK had become so large, over 2000, that it became necessary to conduct the examinations on two different days, in order to maintain the professionalism and smooth-running efficiency that characterises OFAAL so uniquely. That year the theory examinations were held a month before the practical examinations, which had added benefits for students too, in that they were able to be better prepared for their respective examinations. By 2005, OFAAL had grown even more, and the decision was made to offer two examination sessions. The exam board now offers students the opportunity to sit their exams in either April or September, thus alleviating pressure off students due to sit GCSE or A Level exams in May. Despite other examination boards emerging around London, OFAAL has retained its position as the premier exam board throughout its two decades. At the time of writing, some x number of candidates have been entered for the 2008 exams, which is shaping up to be OFAALs most successful year so far.

OFAAL offers fine-arts students the opportunity to take both practical and theory examinations in their respective subjects, a product of the belief that practical instruction in the fine arts is enriched with, (and arguably, is somewhat worthless without) an appreciation of the theoretical side of ones subject. Practical examinations start at a very basic level, allowing new students to ease themselves in to their first examinations; by the time a student reaches Grade 8 (Diploma) standard, she is expected to be completely versatile and fluent with her instrument / dance. A typical grade one syllabus for instruments requires knowledge of rudimentary musical exercises, such as the swara varasaikal; for the diploma examination, however, candidates are expected to, amongst other things, play Pancharatna Krithis, perform improvisations and to demonstrate their abilities in teaching young pupils.

OFAAL has remained at the forefront of its field, maintaining high standards by having only qualified examiners. In line with this commitment to maintaining professional and high standards, OFAAL introduced a new qualification in 2006, the Post-Diploma, which serves as a higher qualification than the previous highest qualification, the Diploma. Only a handful of candidates have sat this demanding exam, the practical of which is examined by a panel including the Chief Examiner, and the theoretical side of which requires candidates to research, submit and present before an audience a 5,000 word dissertation on a subject related to their chosen fine-art.

By the turn of the millennium, in line with technological advancements around the globe, OFAAL too had updated its services. Currently, the exam board has a fully interactive website at The site allows students across Europe to download their admissions cards, syllabuses and exam materials from the ease of their own home. The site also enables students to access their results as soon as they are available. Moreover, the site allows OFAAL to keep up with the universal interest in cutting down on wasteful use of paper in a bid to save the environment.

As OFAAL looks to the future, it will strive to continue to meet the needs of fine-arts pupils and teachers alike. Through constantly evaluating and renewing their needs, OFAAL shall hopefully remain successful in years to come.


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