Playwright ‘appalled’ at exam

2013-11-28 00:00

AS the mother of a victim of the Facebook rapist, and the Tshepang playwright yesterday slammed the “baby rape” matric drama paper, the matric standards authority dismissed the outcry, saying pupils who complained were simply “unprepared”.

Matric drama pupils, sitting for their final exam on Monday, were asked in a compulsory question to describe the symbolic rape of a baby using a loaf of bread and a broomstick.

Government matric pupils have not studied the play but it is a set work for Independent Examinations Board schools this year.

The Facebook rapist’s victim’s mother expressed outrage, especially as her son also wrote the paper.

Dubbed the “Facebook rapist”, Thabo Bester, (25) is serving a 30-year jail term after he was found guilty of luring women on Facebook to Durban where he raped and robbed them.

She said her son was “in a mood from hell” when she fetched him from school, only to show her the exam paper.

“In order to make an audience feel the horror of child rape, using props, lighting, sound, and stage directions” it would mean they would have to think like a rapist.

“I, as a parent, do not want my son to ever be able to think of how to make a rape look real,” said the outraged mother.

She said the question “shook him to the core and brought back every memory”.

Theresa Ann, a rape victim, also said she was horrified.

“Not only as a victim of rape but also as someone who has worked and counselled rape victims, this is an… [outrage]. I really do not care how they spin this — unless you have been raped or seen more than one baby’s intestines hang out due to being raped, they must not try to justify the question,” said Ann.

Tshepang playwright Lara Foot said if the play was used as an “unseen extract” or if the play had not been studied, or seen by the pupils, then the question was “totally inappropriate and frankly appalling”.

“The exam question as it is presented indicates that there is a misinterpretation on the part of those who set this question. Given the history and statistics of rape in this country, it is imperative that the matter is dealt with, but dealt with sensitively and responsibly,” said Foot.

The Basic Education Department has given an undertaking that it would consider excluding the question from the exam to ensure that pupils were not negatively affected.

“If there is evidence that candidates have been affected by this question, it will be excluded from the question paper and the marking guidelines will be adjusted accordingly.”

Local psychologist Tamryn Sprunt said, however, to use such a sensitive and provocative topic in an already stress-filled exam setting was psychologically unfair to pupils.

“Final matric exams are fraught with high depression and anxiety risks, not excluding a higher suicide rate.

“If this play needed to be covered then it should have been a play discussed in the classroom where counselling services could be on hand rather than a blind piece in an exam,” said Sprunt.

• Niyanta.Singh@witness.co.za

COUNCIL for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, Umalusi, spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane said if pupils were offended by the question, it meant the outcome of studying drama — to equip pupils to free their minds of bigotry and prejudice — was not achieved.

“Therefore the learners are conceptually conflating and fudging the real issue of not being test-wise and test-prepared in dealing with the levels of difficulty and complexity of the test items.”

Ditaunyane said Umalusi’s subject experts and moderators were sensitive to issues of national concern such as rape, violence, and abuse. He said the exam question was about how a social issue could be made theatrically engaging.

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