Friday, 27 May 2016

Zuma school exam cartoon probe

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has vowed to “act decisively” against a school that used a cartoon ridiculing President Jacob Zuma in an exam question paper.

The school used a drawing of cartoonist Zapiro depicting Zuma with a shower head, floating in a pool of money and having a drink.

The first question asks who the man in the picture is, while the second question asks if the pupils will vote for Zuma, based on the cartoon.

Lesufi said he would not name the school, citing safety reasons, but the question paper was for Grade 6 pupils.

Responding to the first question, one of the pupils wrote: “No, I wouldn’t (vote for Zuma) because he looks way too stupid to think about others, and he’s swimming in money, which shows that he is selfish when it comes to money.”
Zuma school exam cartoon probe
Next to the answer was the word “Good”, supposedly written by the teacher with a red pen.

A parent who saw the image complained to Lesufi and asked that he investigate the matter.

On his personal Facebook account, Lesufi stated: “How dare you ask schoolchildren in class these questions? Forgive me, but on Monday, we will act decisively against this school!

“May I thank the parents who brought this to our attention. Someone will fall, we can assure you!”

Nanagolo Leopeng, Gauteng Education spokesperson, said the department was aware of the matter.

“At this stage, we are not in a position to disclose the name of the school. We take serious exception to this and have requested officials to investigate this matter.”

A team from the department visited the school yesterday and Lesufi was expected to make an announcement today on what action would be taken against the school.

Speaking to Cape Times sister paper The Star yesterday, Lesufi said: “What saddens me is that this is from a Christian school.

“My team went to the school to gather information, and from that, we will take decisive action. How do you have a question like this in the middle of election season?

“Teaching is about teaching and not transferring your hatred of something or a person onto the pupils.”

Lesufi said he would take similar action if the school used a cartoon depicting a politician from another political party. “It is about the principle, and not the person. Even if it was Mandela or Julius Malema, we would still take the same stance.

“We don’t mind pupils being exposed to issues, but that should not be done in a personal way.”

Education expert Professor Mary Metcalfe said while visual literacy and interpretation was part of the curriculum, the way in which cartoons are used should be subject to clear, professional judgement.

“In this matter, the teacher needs to give an account of the value of this to education. When using political or religious cartoons, teachers need to give careful consideration to material that can cause offence. It is possible to teach critical thinking and choose material that is not offensive.”

ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said the party would allow Lesufi to investigate the matter, but “on the face of it there is no way such a cartoon should be allowed in school to teach pupils”.

Comment from the Presidency was not immediately available.

The Star conducted a poll on Twitter yesterday, asking users whether schools should be allowed to ask similar questions. Forty-six percent of the respondents responded with a “no”, 29 percent said it was freedom of expression.