The purpose of the study was to investigate teachers? perceptions and experiences of the management of learner absenteeism in rural primary schools in the Kavango region of Namibia. This study was conducted in the Kavango region of Namibia where absenteeism has been identified as a problem in achieving quality education. A further purpose of the study was to gain some insight into the management challenges faced by teachers and the strategies they use to reduce learner absenteeism in their classes. The main research question was: How do teachers in rural primary school in the Kavango region of Namibia manage learner absenteeism? This exploratory study was conducted within an interpretive, qualitative paradigm. The researcher used semi-structured interviews to generate data and the findings of the study showed that learner absenteeism is a problem in the rural primary schools in the Kavango region of Namibia. Factors that contribute to learners absenteeism were identified and categorized as family (domestic work); individual (lack of motivation, especially over-aged learners); environmental (changing seasons, such as cold, rain and harvesting); and socio-economic (hunger).
The study also found that there is little parental participation in dealing with learner absenteeism because of the lack of teacher-parent relationships; a lack of value for education; and a lack of learner support. Furthermore, the study showed that some the classroom management challenges faced by the teachers in terms of learner absenteeism include the need to repeat lessons for absent learners; a lack of learner motivation; and other individual learner problems. Some of the strategies teachers use to reduce learner absenteeism emerged from findings of the study, including providing a school feeding scheme; presenting certificates and awards to learners for regular attendance; and establishing positive relationship strategies. It was also found that teachers apply an ethic of care in terms of modelling, dialogue, practice and confirmation in order to reduce learner absenteeism in the classroom. The ethic of care was evident in initiatives, like teachers making home visits to assess the domestic situations of learners and giving motivational talks to learners, encouraging them to care for other learners by using prefects to the encourage learners.