This was after Grade 12 pupils, who wrote a Dramatic Arts paper on Monday, their parents and activists expressed concern at the exam question that asked them to “describe” how they would help an actor maximise the horror of the rape for an audience.
“If it was set as an ‘unseen extract’ from the work, or if the play has not been studied or seen by the pupils, then that question is totally inappropriate and frankly appalling,” said Lara Foot, who is now the artistic director of the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.
Umalusi, the council for qua-lity assurance in general and further education and training, said media reports that pupils were required to “describe in much horror and detail” the brutal rape of a nine-month old baby were “a clear example of misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the issue at hand”.
Umalusi and the Department of Basic Education acknowledged the exam featured a question asking pupils to “describe” how they would maximise the horror of the brutal rape and to use a loaf of bread and a broom stick to “represent and resemble the brutal act”, but denied there was an enactment of rape in the exam.
Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said: “Given the nature and content of dramatic arts, it is assumed students are familiar with such passages and would have been trained to deal with their personal emotions.”
The department’s response yesterday prompted parents in Mpumalanga to lodge a formal complaint.
They also demand counselling for all pupils who wrote the paper, that the department publicly apologise and the officials who came up with the question be dismissed.
Foot said: “Even if the play has been studied by the pupils, the question in the exam is unsuitable and entirely problematic.”