Profuse apology over Zuma cartoon proffered by Gauteng school

The Gauteng Education Department has accepted an apology and a promise to never do it again from the school that used a Zapiro cartoon depicting President Jacob Zuma floating on a pool of money with a showerhead‚ in a school project.

The paper‚ shared on Twitter by

https://twitter.com/SiphileHlwatika/status/734671683089510400‚ asks the pupils to identify the person depicted in the cartoon‚ which relates to the spending at Nkandla.

“Just by looking at this cartoon‚ would you vote for this individual to be president‚” they are then asked.

A learner who got a score of “good” with two ticks‚ answered in the negative‚ because “he is swimming in money and that shows he’s selfish when it comes to money”.

The education department said on Tuesday the cartoon was used in a Grade 6 English Visual Literacy Test at an independent school in the province.

A concerned parent brought it to the attention of the Gauteng MEC for Education‚ Panyaza Lesufi. The MEC immediately requested the department’s Independent Schools Directorate and Assessment Directorate to urgently investigate the test that was administered to learners.

“The officials went to the school yesterday and interviewed the Principal‚ Head of Department and the Grade 6 English Teacher as part of the preliminary investigation‚” the department said in a statement.

The school follows the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

CAPS gives expression to the knowledge‚ skills and values worth learning in South African schools. This Curriculum aims to ensure that children acquire and apply knowledge and skills in ways that are meaningful to their own lives. In this regards‚ the curriculum promotes knowledge in local contexts‚ while being sensitive to global imperatives.

“The question regarding whether learners could vote for the individual depicted in the cartoon could be viewed as being sensitive to CAPS requirements‚ however does not influence the thinking of the learner. It is noted that the visual text used‚ was based on the size and clarity for the learners as this is precisely an English Visual Literacy Test.

“Given that the matter had largely been viewed as insensitive‚ offensive and distasteful by the public‚ the school principal has apologised sincerely for any hurt or distress caused by the use of the cartoon in the English Visual Literacy test.

“The principal has assured the Department that there was no malice intended and that the school will refrain from using any cartoons that have a potential of causing any form of distress or confusion.

“The Department therefore welcomes the apology from the school and accepts the decision of the school to refrain from using such cartoons in future.”

The Gauteng education team also urged all schools to be sensitive to issues of diversity such as poverty‚ inequality‚ race‚ gender‚ language‚ age‚ disability and other factors when implementing CAPS.

Lesufi took to Twitter on Monday and Tuesday to field criticism and support over the Zapiro cartoon.

Kusile Labs & Tech @kusilelabs tweeted: “@SiphileHlwatika @Lesufi very unfortunate for teachers to stoop so low. how long SA must you take to heal? How long?”‚ to which he replied: “How long indeed‚ when others still want to exclude our children to learn and play together”.

Sir Maximus @Nhlakzito thought that the official was stifling expression: “@Lesufi @madiba–pinky children also have the right to freedom of speech‚ if its his/her opinion that the adult is stupid then so be it...”

“With due respect‚” @Lesufi retorted‚ “you know very well your child can’t say that to you”.

Andrew Perkin @Perks–ZA had taken a similar tack and ventured: “@Lesufi The children of 1976 defied the adults‚ and waged war against the regime. Age should never determine the legitimacy of thought.”

@Lesufi said that interpretation of the Soweto uprising was incorrect and tweeted: “No!They defied apartheid‚ the system not adults. I was always worried about who taught u history that was disservice”.

Pinky Madiba @madiba–pinky weighed in by saying the MEC should butt out: “@Lesufi u should stop defending showerhead Zuma.there’s nothing wrong with wat those kids wrote abt .they’re learning abt Truth an integrity”.

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