SADTU calls on the Department of Basic Education to release itself from Pearson`s "capture"

9 September 2016

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) is condemning in strongest terms, publishing group and global leader in the privatisation of education Pearson PLC for publishing a textbook that seeks to normalise rape.

Pearson is the publisher of the Grade 10 Life Orientation book that caused a stir last week when an angry parent posted on social media a part of the book with a scenario involving a teenage girl who was raped at a house party. The girl, named Angie had lied to her parents in order to go with her friends to a party she would ordinarily not have been allowed to go to. At the party, she had a few drinks. Her friends pushed her into a room with an unknown man and locked the door. She banged on the door but her friends laughed and didn`t open it. The man raped her.

Learners were asked three questions about the scenario. The first one being: List 2 ways in which Angie`s behaviour led to sexual intercourse. The suggested answer to the question in the Teacher`s Guide was that Angie had lied to her parents and she drank too much alcohol.

From the scenario, the incident was clearly that of rape. However, the question described it as sexual intercourse, therefore normalising this ghastly act. Rape is a crime and can never be justified by any means.

The suggested answers in the Teacher`s Guide entrenches the idea that Angie was responsible for what happened because she had attended the party without her parent`s consent and she drank too much alcohol. How preposterous?

With South Africa facing the highest incidents of rape in the world, the education system cannot allow itself to teach misogynistic language and glamorisation of sexual violence which creates a culture that disregards women`s rights and their safety.

Had the learners answered that none of Angie`s behaviour should have caused the rape, they would have failed the question. What then does this say about the role of the teacher and the creativity of the learner?

Our curriculum should inculcate creativity and not rote learning. We want an education system that empowers learners to be self standing human beings who will question anything and tell truth to power

Teachers are not given professional freedom but are channelled to be instruments and not thinkers, thanks to Pearson who cares less about quality education but is out make profit. We call upon teachers to maintain their professional and academic freedom and reject content that seeks to entrench gender stereotyping.

The intrusion of private interest in public education compromises quality and the role of Pearson in this case show how it has captured policy makers who care less about the child. Pearson has systematically encroached into our system not only as a publisher but in policy matters as well. They are used as the preferred company to do markings and assessments compromising the quality of our education.

We therefore demand that the DBE review all procedures of evaluating materials to be used in schools and the Departmental officials be investigated for having allowed this immoral and value compromising textbook.

We call on the Department of Basic Education to take charge of education and release itself from Pearson "capture" which seeks to entrench its capitalist views to the detriment of quality education.