Cape Town -

A system to monitor teacher absenteeism, developed by the Western Cape Education Department, could be rolled out across the country.

It has been used in the Western Cape for five years and has reduced the rate of absenteeism.

The system could be the solution the national Department of Basic Education is looking for as it seeks to ensure accountability among teachers.

Research had found teachers in South Africa were absent for eight days a year on average.

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

Provincial Education Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said two schools - Eversdal Primary in Cape Town and Liebenberg Primary in Malmesbury - had of their own accord introduced biometric systems.

He said there were no immediate plans to introduce biometric systems in other schools.

“The Western Cape Education Department introduced an online attendance register for school staff about five years ago. The system is not biometric, although it achieves the same objective by providing an electronic record of staff attendance.”

Attwell said principals or school secretaries had to complete the attendance register by 10am each day.

“The system provides an instant record of attendance. The system automatically records a staff member as absent if the school has not registered them as present.

“Principals, districts and our head office can draw reports daily if necessary to check whether employees who are absent have applied for leave.”

The department was also able to use the system to monitor trends according to schools, circuits, districts and the province. The system had “helped to reduce unauthorised absence”.

Attwell said the department had shared the system with the Northern Cape and had presented it to other provincial education departments. The Western Cape would make the system available free of charge to other education departments, “should they wish to use it”.

Last week, teachers expressed concern that installing such a system would be a waste of time, and said efforts should rather be made to find the source of the problem. They said absenteeism was a widespread problem, with stress, sickness, and a lack of infrastructure and motivation among the causes.

But the Department of Basic Education said the installation of such a system would not happen soon, as research was being done.

The Western Cape’s system might be rolled out to other schools, with a biometric facility included later.


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Cape Times