SA teachers set absentee record

2013-02-26 14:35

Cape Town - 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 [Southern African Development Community]. We're at 19 days [average per teacher] a year. It's huge. An average of 10% 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 a 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.

  • squeegee.pilot - 2013-02-26 14:41

    Wow, so if they could double that the pass rate will go through the roof...

      robert.rob.7505 - 2013-02-26 15:19

      Do you mean we'll get a 120% pass-rate especially in Math?

      vambozha.mutemi.9 - 2013-02-26 15:27

      payroll admins must be absent for 7.5 million days this year

      walter.o.latham - 2013-02-26 15:39

      This does not surprise me and it's another black mark against the Minister's name.... talk about putting the boot in your mouth! These stats and incompetency of the teachers she refers to doesn't surprise me. I served on the board of directors of a community owned company and one of the directors "taught" grade 12 accountancy. He was unable to read or understand a simple balance sheet; and that's the honest truth!!!

      D_MAN - 2013-02-26 15:56

      Its the African way. They dont care about education or the kids. All they want at the end of the day is their money and will take sick leave how ever they can. It's the African mentality.

      Rajesh Sukha - 2013-02-26 17:58

      D-Man- go read the report. Just because SA is lagging doesn't make it the "African way"- we are the worst of the SADC regions- those are african- yes- you get it? I think you mean to imply something other that a regional demographic classification-soemthing much worse?

      Rudi Ernst - 2013-02-26 19:12

      So give us the numbers Rajesh or is it easier to just lash out?

      chaapo.sithole - 2013-02-27 05:18

      Don't worry. After all, the pass rate will be decreased to 25% for Math and all those hard sciences because - what can the poor students do! It is already in the works so let the teachers have their fun because their understanding ANC government will take care of the pass rate and the optics of this absenteeism.

  • Ilana Lombard - 2013-02-26 14:51

    I have been teaching for five years and 2 months without being absent for a day. Maybe they should reward us if we haven't been absent for a certain period of time to motivate the teachers not to be absent from school.

      boerewors.braaivleis - 2013-02-26 15:02

      You can't compare the good old days with today's reality. People just don't give a f$%k any more in this country. Everything is in shambles! All thanks to the ANC!

      Gert Barnard - 2013-02-26 15:02

      Sadly you and your non offending colleagues get measured by the offenders who outnumber you vastly. By the same token your good attendance is actually making the statistics look more favorable.

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-02-26 15:12

      Ilana, there are many like you so imagine how many days these other teachers are really absent. Your low absenteeism makes the average look better than it really is...

      Annemarie White - 2013-02-26 15:21

      Teachers at some of our schools (not absent at all) have not been paid for two months.

      Matshane Seleko - 2013-02-26 16:04

      You could go to work everyday and still do less,if not nothing at all,much like the worst sinner who attends church every Sunday.

      brigitte.bell.33 - 2013-02-26 16:06

      I have been teaching for 22yrs and I don't think I've even had 19 days off in that period! I know I'm a crazy martyr but if I don't go in, then my fellow teachers carry my class. I just can't do that to them unless I am literally on my back!

      rodney.overes - 2013-02-26 16:18

      I SALUTE you and the teachers I know, My wife and daughter are teachers and they have not been absent for years. Out the whole school where my wife is they have only had 26 absent days out of a staff of 43 for last year and when you are sick you are required to bring a doctors letter.

      rodney.overes - 2013-02-26 16:26

      I would not like to see the figures if every teacher that is not absent now goes and takes 19 days that they seem to be "entitled to" . The stats would probably rise to 69 days a year.

      Rajesh Sukha - 2013-02-26 17:59

      Tell that to D-Man- he seems to think you are an African problem.

      Rajesh Sukha - 2013-02-26 18:00

      Who are you boerewors.braaivleis. is News24 creating these fictitious moaners so it can stir on its own website?

      Rajesh Sukha - 2013-02-26 18:02

      So you go to the strikes to see for yourself? racist- implying that blacks are the only truants? How do you know this Alicia Myburgh ...sorry Alicia whatever you are now. That comment of yours is clothed in a racist undertone.

      donald.perumal - 2013-02-26 19:43

      Rewarded for what-you get paid to attend school! The problem lies elsewhere.

      Nunu - 2013-02-27 06:22

      But you're white Ilana, so no surprise there.

  • Tim Norris - 2013-02-26 14:51

    How about spending the R500 million that they want to waste on this clock system on simply improving the standards of administration and refresher courses for teachers. There would considerably better results without having to offer further opportunities for corruption.

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-02-26 15:52

      Bring back corporal punishment - for absent teachers!

      Sheik Mohammad - 2013-02-27 00:24

      Never needed a clock-in system during Apartheid............must tell you something of how the ANC governs.

  • Ben - 2013-02-26 14:57

    Teachers don't care what gov says. Schools are run by unions these days and gov's to scared to lose their votes.

      philip.darne - 2013-02-26 15:03

      SPOT ON Ben! The private sector can not afford to pay their staff the salaries of the public sector....remember the minister who stood up, yes, stood up and said give the teachers descent salaries and the tools to do the job and we'll see the results.....hellooooo. The SAPS also springs to mind! We're on the way down!! Hello AFRICA.

      Ryan Erasmus - 2013-02-26 15:23

      @Ben, summing up the problem nicely there

      Wim Kruger - 2013-02-26 16:51

      Quite correct. Angie Motshekga thinks she and her national department run the schools in South Africa. Not so. The education in 'black schools' (where 99% of the problems are) are run by South African Democratic (sic) Teachers Union. It WILL NOT come right in our generation.

      chaapo.sithole - 2013-02-27 05:23

      @philip.darne No - actually it is not Hello Africa but some of Africa with SA joining. Zimbabwe only had an 18% pass rate at last year's "O" Level because the Ministry and Examination body have not compromised on the standard. There may be a lot wrong in Zim but the education system still expects a a high standard from students.

  • Barney Dino - 2013-02-26 14:59

    Teaching, like nursing is a calling for people who should have the passion and love for it. In Africa, majority of the "local" population however only sees this as a means to a salary and benefits, with no love, passion or care connected to the job. Look how nurses sleep on duty, swear at patients, etc. There are lots of teachers and medical staff who dedicate their lives to their profession and try to make a difference, but its not the majority of ethnic African culture or tradition, never has been, never will be.

      brigitte.bell.33 - 2013-02-26 16:08

      I have often commented that if I could be a slack teacher then I would be the happiest person on the job...slack marking, slack arrival, slack task completion...not really putting in any effort, arrive at 8 and go home at 2...lovely...but no such chance. having a conscience is a real bugger! lol:)

  • cecil.wright.142 - 2013-02-26 15:04

    Isn't that what state employees are supposed to do? Don't work but still get full pay. No wonder this is becoming a nation of brainless wonders

      marc.ross.965 - 2013-02-26 15:40

      According to the SA Gov website a school year(inland and coastal) is 200 teaching days. So less an average of 19 sick days the AVERAGE teacher teaches 181 days a year. That is less than one day in two. WTF

  • Vaughn Luppnow - 2013-02-26 15:05

    Maybe no work no pay will solve the problem?

  • sharkie.fin - 2013-02-26 15:06

    Seems about right

  • Erik Prinsloo - 2013-02-26 15:09

    Why don't they tell us who these teachers are and whre they teach? Stop the generalization!!!

  • Lucky Luke - 2013-02-26 15:10

    no books, no teachers, no hope...just where zoomer and co want them, uneducated = votes!

  • Jolene Strydom - 2013-02-26 15:11

    What will stop these teachers from just clocking in for eachother?? Then it just looks like more are coming to school, when in actual fact-the department just wasted all that money!

      Brandon Buckley - 2013-02-26 16:03

      R500 Million could probably buy a Biometrics system that would require a thumb scan, so unless they are removable, it would work. No work-No Pay!!!!!

      Jolene Strydom - 2013-02-26 17:51

      The idea is a solid one that works in companies making money and therefore implement it, so that they lose as little as possible. A system like that won't work in a rural community where ppl steal taps for the copper etc, give school in tin cans. I'm a teacher and agree there needs to be a solution-i show up for work everyday,so I don't care one way or the other. I just think others would find a way to crook the system. Its a sad reality.

  • lindy.jeffery.9 - 2013-02-26 15:12

    And pethaps better working conditions i.e brick and mortar schools, not tin shacks.

      robert.rob.7505 - 2013-02-26 15:26

      WHAT? now thats silly - there are more important things that need attention, like nkandlas and wabenzis!

  • Lucky Luke - 2013-02-26 15:14

    here's what i find astounding: the black liberators of the black masses now steal from the very masses that they liberated! all in the name of apartheid. makes one wonder what the "struggle" was about, certainly not the majority!

  • john.morreira.9 - 2013-02-26 15:16

    Wow! Yet another record,S.A is really showing the world.

  • tommy.jones.754918 - 2013-02-26 15:17

    Lets say a teacher earns a thumb-suck R15 000.00 per month, divided by an average of 26 working days per month = ±R 575.00 / day x 7.5 million days = cost to Tax Payer = R 4 312 500 000.00

      tommy.jones.754918 - 2013-02-26 15:21

      or is my logic wrong

      Hein Van Wyk - 2013-02-26 15:34

      Don't know about the 15K and 26days but y its alot of money going down the drain even in you half that amount...they don't have pride

      brigitte.bell.33 - 2013-02-26 16:11

      After 22yrs of teaching I earn nowhere near that amount...just to fill you in. That's with full distinction qualification. But I still put all I have into it. It's a calling, not a job.

  • Andrew McMurray - 2013-02-26 15:19

    That's strange, Angie, i only thought that there were 365 days in a year. : ) ......that's Basic Education for you......

      junior.mahlo.9 - 2013-02-26 15:26

      75000 000/365 = 205480 years

  • Roz Rose - 2013-02-26 15:35

    Add that to the huge number of wasted days that the Dept expects teachers to attend waste-of-time meetings and the picture is much worse. stop blaming teachers - where are your HODs in the remote District Offices or dont they need to work?

      tommy.jones.754918 - 2013-02-26 15:53

      Ahhh, waste of time meetings. They are everywhere, but especially in the government departments. You go in, sit there half a day, come out at the end of the day and ask yourself "what was the purpose, what had been achieved?".

      michele.holmes.1238 - 2013-02-26 16:48

      @ Tommy - they had a nice breakfast!

  • Russell Maxwell - 2013-02-26 15:37

    Why should they care they get paid whether they bother to teach or not, the unfortunate thing is, teachers that give their all are not singled out, they're all bunged together and labelled . The ones who are malingerers get the same pay increases etc. But the teachers who ignore the strikes or don't take sick leave are not rewarded for their efforts. BUT, this is South Africa, and no systems in place. To the teachers who care I congratulate you, the others you are lazy good for nothings.

  • Roz Rose - 2013-02-26 15:37

    Smoke and mirrors. Most teachers in poor rural schools are holding education together with no support from anyone, so why shift the blame..again

  • Mike Peach Purchase - 2013-02-26 15:39

    Well done south africa you should be proud of your government.

  • Roz Rose - 2013-02-26 15:40


  • Smart Peace - 2013-02-26 15:41

    Factors that contribute to absentism(1)Maladministration(2)Financial stress(3)Over-drinking(3)Bulling by seniors. I personally know of one of the best teacher in maths and science who likes teaching but is not going to work because of the hatred and bullying by his seniors including the circuit manager

  • Andrew Worrall - 2013-02-26 15:42

    At least our teachers are consistent. This has been going on for 18 years and nothing has changed. No wonder there is so much poverty.

  • hughfh - 2013-02-26 15:47

    If any of these ministers had any honour at all, any love for their country, any basic sense of what is good and decent and right, they would publicly commit to addressing the worst problem area/s in their portfolios and be able to demonstrate measureable improvements within a certain reasonable timeframe (say a year) OR have the humility to say "I am out of my depth, I cannot do it, let someone else try". I say there is no disgrace in trying, but much in pretending everything is under control when it clearly isn't. I implore you fellow citizens to think - has there not been more than enough time to bring about significant improvements in the lives of ALL ordinary citizens with the right policies in place? We only live for 80 odd years if we're lucky - that's almost 1/4 of our very limited time on this planet man! Stop letting the government fool you that 19 years is not long enough. Time is too precious. Ensure they do their job or VOTE THEM OUT!

  • cynic.martian.3 - 2013-02-26 16:00

    I am so sick and tired of these utterances by our esteemed minister: 7.5 Million absentee days, but no context - No reasons, no input from unions, no input from teachers, no plans, no nothing! She uses statistics as a drunkard uses a lamp post. Not for illumination, but for support.

  • Nico Eksteen - 2013-02-26 16:00

    Stretches their vacation to about 3 months a year. Not too bad at all.

  • Chris - 2013-02-26 16:01

    sad always an excuse , transport et al,

      michele.holmes.1238 - 2013-02-26 16:50

      Funny, 28 workers in a factory I am close to, and none of them ever experience transport problems.

  • Ntando Isaac - 2013-02-26 16:18

    What example they showing the's OBE ( Obviously Boring Education )

  • Christo Pienaar - 2013-02-26 16:22

    Please explain to me why no disciplinary steps, or any other action were taken

      tommy.jones.754918 - 2013-02-26 16:34

      SADTU is an affiliate of COSATU, which is part of the tripartite alliance.

  • Brian Dorning - 2013-02-26 16:28

    Bet that they will strike as well. 'We eh-demand!' 'But we don't want to earn it'

  • Motlalepula Matshwe - 2013-02-26 16:29

    @D-man,I wonder what r u doing in Africa with yo european mentality hw utterly stupid.

  • Crracker - 2013-02-26 16:46

    Too late to do anything about it.

  • george.michaelides.71 - 2013-02-26 16:46

    My wife's best friend has been teaching for over 25 years, funny enough(or not funny really) i asked about how often she was off work in that time a few weeks ago.....she said...maybe 2 weeks in that whole time..and she takes home R11k a month....sickening.....

  • Anele Cweya - 2013-02-26 16:50

    Forgive me if I'm being ignorant ppl,me and my freind we are working in the same school,and we were absent for 10 day last year now multiply dat by 2 making 20 days?!!!!! WTF why? He waz absent for 10 days so am I so where the hack is 20 coming from,I stand to be corrected thank you.

      hughfh - 2013-02-26 17:12

      Just in case you are asking seriously... The 20 (actually 19) days are an average per person. So some teachers are away more than that and some like you and your friend are less. e.g. you 10, your friend 10, the 3rd person 40 makes (10+10+40)/3=20. But I think 10 days is too many Anele!

  • Visser Jooste - 2013-02-26 17:22

    Haven't you heard they want to pass them through matric if they fail twice? So who need to teach anyway?

  • Roger Jenkins - 2013-02-26 17:46


  • Rudi Ernst - 2013-02-26 19:09

    Can someone please explain to me what this biometric clock-in system is going to accomplish? We already know how many days of absenteeism there are, so how will this change?

  • Ernest - 2013-02-26 19:27

    And they want to teach, teach what?!!! Ridiculous bunch of tapeworms tapping tax monies.(not all)

  • Marc-Andre Daniels - 2013-02-26 20:45

    Try teaching these damn hooligans and see whether you'd make it through the year without stress leave!!!

  • lynda.pitcher.1 - 2013-02-26 20:53

    I'm always amazed when my tutees tell me that their teachers have been absent for days and weeks at a time......they are sent to sit in the sun

  • jason.marshall.1804 - 2013-02-26 21:03

    The ones that pass will do well at university. Self study!! :)

  • Rajesh Maharaj - 2013-02-26 22:25

    sick notes from incompetent doctors!!!

  • camille.burger - 2013-02-27 00:13

    Hulle beroof die land van 'n toekoms. Dit is niks minder as hoogverraad!

  • Sheik Mohammad - 2013-02-27 00:21

    Which friend of the ANC is going to get the clocking in system contract? My money's on the the company that got the E-toll contract.

  • Nunu - 2013-02-27 06:20

    The work of Sadtu paying off. Sadtu is at war with the futures of the children of this country. Prideless, shameless. Sadtu.

  • Francois Swart - 2013-03-20 10:14

    They have holiday breaks 4 times as year and still they are absent for and average of 19 days a year??? useless

  • ralph.zieg - 2013-03-20 13:52

    The problems we face today in this country all stem from the communist ideology that seemed so popular some years ago and which appealed so much to some cultures that saw others as being so much more advanced, due to the fact that its intention was to create a society where everyone was equal, hopefully equally well off. This of course would always appeal to the less ambitious amongst us as they see what everyone else has and think they would then have it too, overlooking the hard work required to achieve it. Unfortunately, the reality with this ideology is that the hard workers are not rewarded any more than the lazy, with the result that the hard workers become demoralised and stop working hard as well, and thus every one does end up being equal, but rather equally poor, which seems to suit our present government as it is easier to bring everyone down to the level of the useless than the reverse. This ideology has thus bred mediocrity and incompetence, which is beginning to pervade all sectors of society with no sanction on those that do not perform, with the answer seeming to be to rather reduce the standards that are applied in most other developed countries to accommodate this uselessness. This applies to everything, crime included, with everyone starting to say, WTF, why should I care if no one else does or work hard if no one else does or stop at red robots if no one else does or pay my rates and taxes or traffic fines, etc, if no one else does and gets away with it?

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