A study conducted in 2017 shows that at least one in ten teachers in South Africa is reported absent for school on any given day.
On Monday, 8 April 2019, the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga released the 2017 school monitoring survey, which showed that the national absenteeism aggregate for teachers across South African schools rose from 8 percent to 10 percent 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.
Motshekga explained that the department was monitoring teacher absenteeism because valuable teaching time was lost when teachers are reported absent for school. “If a teacher doesn’t turn up, you have children who sit around at school without a teacher,” she said.
During her presentation, Motshekga noted that the Limpopo and Free State provinces reported the lowest percentages for teacher absences, with 6 percent and 7 percent respectively. The Eastern Cape reportedly held the highest record, with 12 percent of teachers marked absent daily.
However, the survey showed that there was an increase in overall teacher development.
“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 noted that the department had also made significant efforts in the overall betterment of schools, with an increase in access to textbooks at schools and provincial infrastructure programmes such as sanitation projects. She also added that the department had increased the number of classrooms and built new schools since 2000.
“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.
“We have added some 38,664 additional classrooms and over 1,200 new schools since 2000,” she said.