Teacher absenteeism rate estimated at 8% in 2009 – Minister

In reply to a question posed in Parliament on whether the Department of Basic Education maintained a database of absenteeism of teachers, the Minister replied that in 2009 there was an average of 8% teacher absenteeism.

Yes, information on the absence or leave is routinely collected and captured on the PERSAL system. However, over the years the Department has recognised that the school-based educator absence information on PERSAL is not entirely reliable due to under-recording as resulting from various challenges. It was therefore decided that while work is being undertaken to improve the administration of leave from school level through the system and the reliability of the PERSAL system, regular studies will be undertaken to supplement the PERSAL data in order to obtain more accurate statistics of educator absence.

This reply will therefore be based on the recent research on educator leave commissioned by the Department of Basic Education in 2009 (Report published in 2010). The study analysed recorded leave data on PERSAL and the data collected through visits to a sample of schools. As part of the analysis, the findings of the Khulisa Audit study conducted in 2008 were also used as a proxy measure.  The study concluded that the absentee rate was estimated at about 8%.

This rate covered all forms of absence which included leave taken in terms of the leave prescripts, attendance of official activities such as workshops and meetings, undertaking official duties  away from schools excursions and sports trips. The 8% rate was reached after discounting 0.5% representing maternity leave after finding that schools were generally successful in finding replacement educators.  This translates on average to 16 days of instructional time being lost by each educator per school calendar year. (i)

Province Absence Rate
Eastern Cape 10.5%
Free State 7.2%
Gauteng 9.4%
KZN 10.3%
Limpopo 8.8%
Mpumalanga 8%
Northern Cape 8.5%
North West 8.9%
Western Cape 8.2%

Source: DBE 2010

(ii) In cases where an educator is absent without approval, the educator is given the opportunity to indicate why leave without pay should not be implemented. If the educator can’t provide good reason, leave without pay for the period in question is implemented.

(iii) Cases as such are recorded in the leave file of the educator and on PERSAL.

(2) No, the Department has not been informed of absenteeism where the annual leave allowance was exceeded.

(a;b;c (i) (ii) and d)

Not applicable since the department has not been informed of any such cases.

Issued by Parliament, April 23 2012

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