The Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Pretoria - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Monday said the trend of teacher absenteeism from classrooms across South Africa is marginally growing and remains a cause for concern.

Motshekga made the remarks in Pretoria, where she was releasing findings of the 2017 School Monitoring Survey (SMS) - described by the department of basic education as "a scientifically sound and independent barometer to measure the success or lack thereof of the basic education sector".

The 2017 SMS found that the national average for teacher absence on an average day was 10 percent, with wide variations noted within primary and secondary schools, as well as across provinces and quintiles. 

"We note with apprehension that the 2017 survey found no discernable change in the rate of teacher absence, since 2011. The survey recorded an increase in the national aggregate absence (from 8 percent to 10 percent) on an average day," said Motshekga.

"This is deeply troubling. We must do more to support our teachers. There’s a need to drill deeper into the statistics to understand this leave of absence phenomenon. However, we must congratulate the provinces of Limpopo (6%) and Free State (7%) for registering the lowest rate of teacher absence during the period under review."

The 2017 SMS, however, notes that the national absence rate in South Africa "is roughly in line with international norms and that the small change compared to what was measured in 2011 should not be interpreted as evidence of a systematic or substantial increase in teacher absence."

The 2017 SMS was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 1000 schools offering Grade 6, as well as in a nationally representative sample of 1000 schools offering Grade 12. Only schools categorised as public ordinary schools formed part of the sample.

African News Agency/ANA