Teacher absenteeism is of concern in today’s developing educational climate. In South Africa, where education itself is a contested terrain, and decades of disadvantage still impact resources and skills, despite democracy, it is a compelling challenge. This paper, based on a study of how independent primary schools in Gauteng, South Africa, manage teacher absenteeism, offers an analysis of the management practices employed so that some lessons can be extrapolated. The paper draws from real teaching experience in South African primary schools, noting the huge impact of teacher absenteeism and its implications for teaching and learning. Five co-educational (with both genders), independent primary schools were selected for this qualitative study, using Christopher Hood’s Cultural-Theory Framework, document analysis, interviews and observation. Findings homed in on processes used to track teacher attendance policies; directives and instruments that regulate teacher absenteeism; factors that influence teacher absenteeism; leadership styles; rewards for good attendance; penalties for abusing leave, and strategies and measures to manage teacher absenteeism. We conclude with recommendations in response to this challenge and emphasise the need for further research.
This article is based on the MEd dissertation of Linda Naidoo.