SA teachers set absentee record

By Drum Digital
26 February 2013

Truant teachers were absent for close to 7.5 million days last year, according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

"We have the highest rate of absenteeism in SADC [the Southern African Development Community]. We're at 19 days [average per teacher] a year. It's huge. An average of 10 percent nationally," she told reporters at Parliament on Tuesday.

It is understood that teacher absenteeism in other SADC countries is an average of nine days per teacher per year.

According to the department, there were 392,000 teachers employed at public schools around the country in 2012.

With each teacher, on average, being absent for 19 days last year, the total number of days absent multiplies out to 7,448,000.

Motshekga said there was "great concern" in her department about teacher accountability -- arriving at school on time, and teaching for the full day.

Her department was looking at introducing an electronic clock-in system to replace manual attendance registers.

Responding to a question, she described the average of 19 days taken off by public school teachers as "pure absenteeism", but said serious illness had also played a part in the high figure.

"Part of it is the burden of disease, where you find teachers over a period of time have not been to school, but in most instances it's just poor administration."

This was the reason the department wanted to switch to an electronic clock-in system.

Motshekga said transport problems were also a reason many teachers were late, or absent from work.

-by Sapa

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