Matric Exam Question ‘asks pupils to depict baby rape’
The Department of Basic Education has defended a controversial question in Monday’s Dramatic Arts paper involving the rape of a 9-month-old baby – but said if the pupils’ responses showed they had been adversely affected, the question would be excluded.
The compulsory question, part of a 15-mark section based on an extract from South African play, Tshepang, asks pupils to describe how they would stage the raping of a baby using a loaf of bread and a broomstick to “maximise the horror of the rape to the audience”.
Professor Labby Ramrathan, associate professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Education, described it as a “highly inappropriate question” for a matric exam paper. “We must be clear about the nature of current social conditions, but this should be for discussion, not for examination purposes.”
Ramrathan said, if discussed in a controlled classroom environment, it would be more appropriate.
Although there were several reactions from pupils on social media expressing shock at the question, others felt it was not wholly inappropriate.
A Grade 12 pupil at a Durban boys’ school said he did not find the question “terribly offensive”.
“I think (these issues) should rather be known than not. It was a bit of a shock and maybe a bit hectic for a matric paper, but at the end of the day these things do happen.”
Elijah Mhlanga, spokesman for the Department of Basic Education, came out in defence of the question, stating there was no enactment of rape.
“A question in the paper based on an extract from the play, which has won national and international awards, highlights and interrogates a real event that was headlined in the media and that disturbed the nation, the horrific rape of a 9-month-old baby.”
He said the question focused on a key moment in the play, in which the audience was faced with the dramatic arts concept of an “action metaphor”.
“Instead of raping a baby or showing or describing the rape, the symbols of a loaf of bread and a broomstick are used to represent and resemble the brutal act of the rape.
“The horror and aversion the audience feels is achieved without resorting to an actual rape.
“The candidate has to work out the best way to achieve this theatrically and symbolically.
“Nowhere is it expected of the candidate to have to literally describe the actual act of raping a 9-month-old baby.”
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