A grade 7 pupil was allegedly raped near a primary school in Bulwer, in the KwaZulu-Natal interior.
The provincial education department said on Tuesday the child was attacked on Monday when she was sent back home, not far from the school, to fetch her face mask.
"When coming back to school she reported that she had been raped. The principal took her to the clinic and the matter was reported to the police," said the department.
Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said: "As a department we are giving the pupil socio-psychological support. We condemn this barbaric act by the perpetrator and we are working with police to have him apprehended," said Mshengu.
Mshengu appealed to the community to help the police with any information that may lead to an arrest.
"We also appeal to parents to ensure that when children leave home, they are wearing masks at all times, not only for compliance at the school but for their safety," said the MEC.