Cape Town - The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has launched an investigation into how the term “Mandatory Palestine”, used to refer to the State of Palestine, ended up in the Grade 12 maths literacy paper 1 exam.
The blunder has caused outrage among political and religious organisations, who have condemned it as a “blatant disregard” for the sensitivities surrounding the “genocidal attacks on Palestine”.
The Al Jama-ah Party has labelled it a deliberate act and called for harsh action to be taken against those responsible.
The term was used in a currency conversion question, in which learners were asked to calculate the values of the South African rand and the New Israeli shekel.
Yesterday, the DBE said it was probing how the term got to be used in the paper.
“The department regards the use of this term in the national examination question paper as highly unfortunate and regrettable. The DBE regrets the use of the term ‘Mandatory Palestine’, which certainly does not take cognisance of the rooted political sensitivities surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the DBE will put mechanisms in place to ensure that this unfortunate incident does not recur.”
ANC spokesperson for Education in the Western Cape, Khalid Sayed, said the party welcomed the investigation into the matter.
“Mandatory Palestine was a geographical entity established between 1920 and 1948 following the end of World War I, when the League of Nations granted the UK a mandate to administer the territory.
“The inclusion of such terminology within an educational context is highly inappropriate and reflects a lack of consideration for the suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli apartheid state,” said Sayed.
Al Jama-ah questioned the motives behind how the term made it into the paper.
“This is a despicable act – seems to have been deliberate – and those who were part of it must be dealt with, with contempt,” said party MP Ganief Hendricks.
“We are questioning the sincerity of officials placed in responsible positions to oversee the education of our children.
“This is unacceptable and only demonstrates to what extent supporters of Zionism use opportunities to perpetuate their trash.”
The Cape Town Ulama Board said it received several complaints from learners, teachers and concerned residents.
In an open letter to DBE Minister Angie Motshekga, it proposed a workshop to sensitise examiners and curriculum developers about the “current genocide in Palestine”.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has demanded an apology from those responsible.
“The MJC takes strong exception to the condescending manner in which occupied Palestine was referred to as Mandatory Palestine.