'Deeply troubling' increase in teacher absenteeism: Angie Motshekga

Report card for basic education department's successes and challenges

08 April 2019 - 12:22 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. File photo.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. File photo.
Image: Cebisile Mbonani

The number of teachers who are absent from school on a daily basis has increased from 8% to 10%.

This is according to basic education minister Angie Motshekga, who on Monday released the 2017 school monitoring survey.

"The survey recorded an increase in the national aggregate absence (from 8% to 10%) on an average day.

"This is deeply troubling. We must do more to support our teachers. There's need to drill deeper into the statistics to understand this leave of absence phenomenon," Motshekga said.

She said the department was monitoring teacher absenteeism as valuable time for teaching is lost when a teacher is absent from school. "If a teacher doesn't turn up, you have children who sit around at school without a teacher."

She noted that the Limpopo and the Free State provinces had the lowest rate of teacher absences with the former having recorded 6% absenteeism and the latter 7%.

According to the survey, teacher development has increased.

"The 2017 survey says the overall average hours of professional development per teacher per year reflected an improvement since 2011, up from 36 to 42 hours," Motshekga said, adding that the department's target for 2024 was 80 hours per year per teacher.

Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape have, according to Motshekga, recorded an increase in hours dedicated to teacher development.

Motshekga said the department has also made great strides in increasing access to textbooks at schools. However, she noted, "Most schools don't have an adequate retrieval system, which makes it difficult to retrieve textbooks and for parents to replace lost textbooks."

Motshekga said the department was implementing initiatives through the provincial infrastructure programmes, including sanitation projects.

"Outside of the Safe (Sanitation Appropriate for Education) initiative, a further 787 sanitation projects are at practical and final completion in the 2018/19 financial year."

She said the department has delivered sanitation to over 10,621 schools since year 2000.

The department of basic education, according to Motshekga, has also increased the number of classrooms and built new schools since year 2000.

"We have added some 38,664 additional classrooms and over 1,200 new schools since 2000."