Dept explains question in Dramatic Arts paper

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pretoria – The Department of Education has moved to clarify media reports raising concerns about a question in a Dramatic Arts paper in the matric exams.

In a statement on Wednesday, the department said there was no enactment of rape in the matric exam as suggested by some media reports.

“Instead, one of the questions was based on the play, Tshepang, which depicts the rape of a nine-month-old baby. A question for 15 marks in the paper, based on an extract from the play - which has won both national and international awards - highlights and interrogates a real event that was headlined in the media and that disturbed the nation, the brutal and horrific rape of a nine-month-old baby,” said the department.

It said that one of the questions was based on an extract of the set work.

“… The extract read as follows: Describe how you would help the actor portraying Simon to perform line 9 to maximise the horror of the rape for the audience. Line 9, to which the question refers, is a climactic moment in the play, in which the audience is faced with the Dramatic Arts concept of an action metaphor.

“Instead of raping a baby or showing the rape or describing the rape, the symbols of a loaf of bread and a broom stick 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 department explained that the candidate would have to work out the best way to achieve this theatrically and symbolically and that they would not have to literally describe the actual act of raping a nine-month-old baby.

It further said that the aspects tested in the question were as per the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) for Dramatic Arts.

“From a curriculum perspective, the examiners and moderators are well within the prescripts of the curriculum,” said the department.

All NSC question papers are approved by Umalusi, the external quality assurance council that utilises the services of the best experts in the country to moderate these question papers.

The department said it believed Grade 12 learners were young adults, who were fully aware of the social issues confronting the country and Dramatic Arts, like all other art forms, were powerful vehicles for creating social awareness and education to societal issues that need to be addressed to bring about change.

Tshepang, by Lara Foot Newton, is a set work which forms part of what is taught and assessed in class throughout the year. Learners would have been exposed to these kinds of art expressions in the course of their study of Dramatic Arts from Grades 10 to 12.

The department said while it acknowledges that in examinations, content that invokes negative or adverse feelings or emotions in candidates needs to be avoided. Given the nature and content of Dramatic Arts, it is assumed that learners are familiar with such passages and would have been trained to deal with their personal emotions relating to the matter.

“To ensure that no candidate has been negatively affected, the department will mark a sample of the scripts of learners from all nine provinces - as it does with all question papers - after they are written, to establish any possible disadvantage to the candidates.

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

The department reiterated its commitment to ensuring a fair and credible examination for all candidates. –