Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fury in South Africa after schoolchildren's drama exam included question on how they would stage the rape of a baby
Teenage students in South Africa were horrified to be asked how they would stage the rape of a baby using a broomstick and a loaf of bread in a drama exam.

Outraged teachers and parents have complained to the national education department about the question which related to a theatre play about the gruesome rape of a nine-month-old baby.

The question, which has been described as 'downright insensitive and immoral,' left some of the 17-year-old students in tears while others felt sick to their stomach.

Horrified by exam question: Many in South Africa are outraged about a question in a school exam which asked teenage students how they would stage the rape of a baby using a broomstick and a loaf of bread

The question, in the compulsory national dramatic arts metric exam, was meant to evaluate the students' understanding of an 'action metaphor' in reference to 'Tshepang,' a play by South African playwright Lara Foot Newton which is based on the 2001 rape of a baby.

Now education officials are due to meet in the city of Pretoria to discuss the issue and how best to mark the paper in light of the situation.

One senior official specialising in drama education said schools were responsible for teaching children the values of appropriateness, and right and wrong.  According to News24, she said: 'I am going to be making a loud clarion call at that meeting for the head of the person responsible for that question to roll.

'This is wrong, vulgar and a perpetuation of social injustice and gender stereotypes.'

In a statement, the South African education department said today: '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 [in the play].

'The horror and aversion the audience feels is achieved without resorting to an actual rape. The candidate has to work out the best way to achieve this theatrically and symbolically.

'Nowhere is it expected of the candidate to have to literally describe the actual act of raping a nine-month-old baby.'

'The Department, however, acknowledges that in examinations, content that invokes negative or adverse feelings or emotions in candidates needs to be avoided. However, 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.'

One anonymous student reportedly said she was 'sick to her stomach' when she read the question while another burst into tears because the question brought back memories of a young sibling who had been abused. Others were said to be extremely embarrassed by their answers.

The play was part of the syllabus for students in their final year of school and the metric exams are compulsory.

The question has divided child safety activists.

Eureka Olivier, the administration director of child rights advocacy group Bobbi Bear said she was 'absolutely disgusted'.

She said: 'I do not understand the concept of using a broomstick and a loaf of bread to depict such a thing. What are we teaching our children by having such a question in an exam paper?'

In contrast, Rekha Nathoo, the director of Children in Distress said that rape was something that did happen in South Africa and that children needed to be 'made aware of the realities' through education in order to push for change.


Unemployed British mother is told to delete her degree from her CV so that she doesn't 'scare off potential employers'

A mother who escaped an abusive relationship to get a degree was told to remove it from her CV by Jobcentre staff to avoid 'scaring off' employers.

Rachel Sawford, 29, proudly told the careers advisor about her 2:1 in social work as she asked for help finding a job. But she was advised to leave her qualification off applications because it would hamper her chances of getting work.

Ms Sawford, from Portsmouth, has blasted the advice, which 'made my degree seem like nothing'.  She said: 'They are saying everything I have achieved in the past four years is worthless. 'I have worked since I was 16 and this is the first time I have been on benefits.  'I want to get off benefits but I will not take my achievement off my CV.'

The mother-of-one, who graduated from the University of Portsmouth in July this year, hoped to use her qualification to help other vulnerable women in violent relationships.

But straight out of education, she struggled to find work and was forced to sign-on for Jobseeker’s Allowance later that month.  To her dismay, the staff informed her she would be 'more employable' for the jobs they had to offer if she hid her BSc (Hons) from would-be employers.

However, the graduate - who now has a £30,000 student loan to pay off - refuses to do so.  She said: 'I knew it would be difficult for a single mum to find a job, so I went to the Jobcentre to get advice, which is what I thought they are there to do.

'The contract you sign says after 13 weeks you will have to look for jobs outside of your remit.

'When they were building the contract on the computer, they asked if I had my CV, so I gave it to her.

'She said ‘this is lovely but you will have to amend it’ because I would be overqualified for some jobs.  'She said I would scare employers with my degree. I was shocked.  'I said I was not happy with that advice because I had worked really hard for four years to achieve it.  'If I did not want to get a job in this area, I would not have gone to university.'

Ms Sawford, who has a six-year-old daughter, said if she couldn't find a job as a social worker she wants to do support work or youth projects.

But, currently on a four-week placement as a substitute teaching assistant but, she is still struggling to find employment for when her placement finishes.

Her case follows a study by the Office for National Statistics showing half of recent graduates are in jobs they do not need a degree to do.

Liz Holford, a careers advisor at the University of Portsmouth, said: 'If people’s circumstances mean they can’t move, it is about seeing what other roles she could consider.

'A lot of social work jobs say you need experience, but graduates do manage to find employment.

'I have heard other students say employers only want people with experience but there are a lot of jobs for new graduates, too.'

A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions spokesman did not deny staff tell jobseekers to omit the fact they are a graduate.  He added: 'Jobcentre Plus advisors work with jobseekers to ensure they have the best chance possible of moving into work.

'This may include helping someone to highlight relevant skills, experience, and qualifications to ensure their CV is focused towards the job they are applying for.'

Almost 40 per cent of people over the age of 21 are now graduates, compared with 17 per cent in 1992.

The Office for National Statistics say non-graduates experienced the highest unemployment rise during the recession.

But some are are still finding it hard to get a job to match the skills they are qualified in.  Many cannot find work at all.

The University of Portsmouth said 93 per cent of social work graduates from its course were in employment six months after graduating.

The research does not show, however, if these are graduate jobs.


'I know what I'm doing': British father stopped taking his two young children to school on cargo bike insists he WASN'T putting them in danger

Cargo bikes are common in the Netherlands

A father who has been taking his children to school in a wheelbarrow attached to a bicycle told road safety police he 'knew what he was doing' when stopped at rush hour this morning.

Ben Watson said he had been taking daughters to school on the bike for four years and thought the operation launched by Metropolitan police was 'unfair' on cyclists.

Hundreds of officers were deployed to London's most dangerous junctions and roads today in a bid to monitor road safety after the deaths of six cyclists in just two weeks.

Mr Watson was pulled off the road by police this morning near Euston Junction, but was later released.

The 57-year-old criticised the officer in question for not knowing the law, saying: 'This policeman called me over and said "is that bike legal?" I thought "well you’re the policeman surely you should be telling me whether its legal or not"'.

The house husband from Somers Town added: 'I think it seems a bit unfair as this operation is making out cyclists are the problem when it is actually cars that are the problem.

'I know my lights, I know where I’m going.  'I’ve been taking the kids to school on this route for four years, I know what I’m doing.'


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