An investigation into a Grade 6 test paper that had questions about a Zapiro cartoon of President Jacob Zuma will continue despite the school’s apology, Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi said on Thursday.
The private Christian school apologised for the move after the department said the question had been viewed as “insensitive, offensive and distasteful by the public”.
Responding to questions from the media during a social cluster report at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Lesufi said he did not want pupils to feel restricted, but said teachers should “impart knowledge and not their own emotions”.
Lesufi said the department sent a team to make an analysis of the situation at the school.
“The teacher got permission from the HOD and principal of the school. They were aware of the question. The school has since apologised to the department and said it would refrain from doing such things in the future.
“We want to emphasise this is not about who is depicted in the cartoon, it is about respecting the system. We don’t want learners to be intimated and feel they cannot express themselves.”
When asked why the department was not naming the school, Lesufi said it was “purely for investigation reasons”.
‘Too stupid to think about others’
“I wanted to name them. But there are processes that need to be respected. If it was a public institution I would name them. However, I have been advised that I should let the legal process see itself out. It is only when the investigation concludes that we will be in a position to reveal the name.”
The Johannesburg-based IEB school used a cartoon of President Jacob Zuma drifting in a pool of cash as part of a test question. The work by cartoonist Zapiro, whose real name is Jonathan Shapiro, was a reaction to the R246m spent on so-called security upgrades to Zuma’s private Nkandla homestead.
These included a swimming pool.
Pupils were asked to identify the man in the photo.
Another question asks if, based on the cartoon, the child would vote for the man to be president.
One pupil answered: “No I wouldn’t 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.”
The answer received two ticks, along with a note in red pen reading, “Good”.