Cape Town -

The Department of Basic Education is looking for ways to cut the rate of teacher absenteeism.

Last year, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the department was considering introducing a biometric system to monitor teacher absenteeism.

She was criticised by the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union for lack of consultation about the biometric system. It said that policing teachers should not be Motshekga’s “obsession”.

This week the department said it had “done extensive work to investigate the feasibility” of introducing the biometric system to schools but was considering other ways of reducing absenteeism.

The department was considering expanding an online attendance register used in Western Cape schools, to other provinces as well as adding a biometric facility in the future.

Biometrics is technology that identifies a person based on their physical or behavioural traits.

Paddy Attwell, spokesman for the Western Cape Education Department, said schools registered attendance online by 10am every day. “The system records employees as absent if they are not registered as present. The department will then check whether the employee has applied for leave. Schools, districts and our head office can use the system to monitor trends.”

He said the average number of days of sick leave taken by teachers had dropped from seven in 2007 to four last year.

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Cape Argus