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Unisa online - Partial absenteeism and late coming at public secondary schools

Dr LP Boshego
Dr LP Boshego

Dr LP Boshego received a post-doctoral master’s in Education (MEd) degree in Educational Management (cum laude) for the study: “The management of the phenomenon of learners’ partial absenteeism and late coming at four public secondary schools of the Tshwane West (D15)”. The main purpose of the study was to determine the management of the phenomenon of learners’ partial absenteeism and late comingin the light of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) Circular 13 of 2002.

The main question was: why do learners of the GDE continue to arrive late to school, bunk classes, and why are they always seen roaming the streets in full school uniform during school hours irrespective of the presence of the GDE Circular 13 promulgated in 2002?   Respondents targeted for data collection were members of the School Management Teams (SMTs). To address the initial propositions of the study, a qualitative case study research design and its techniques for data collection and analysis were used.

Findings revealed poor management of educational processes in all sampled schools as contributory to the problems at hand. Among others, it emerged that:

  • learners absenteeism during school hours (partial absenteeism) and late coming, which also applies to educators, are rife across the four participating public secondary schools;
  • SMT members’ have limited training and lack of knowledge of school management in general;
  • learners indiscipline is rife;
  • there are no partnerships formed with related support/referral structures such as: the education authorities, neighbouring schools, parents and the local communities, health, social welfare and child protection agencies, to help fight indiscipline in schools.

It also emerged that Circular 13 itself contributes much to the problems at hand, as it emphasises the locking of gates during school hours, and thus denying learners access to visit their homes during lunch break, resulting in some learners playing truant and making implementation of this policy unattainable.

Absence of feeding schemes in schools said to be fee/rich schools, according to the quintile system, is not helpful as it adds to the policy implementation problems. It was also found that the GDE does not have the mechanisms to monitor policy implementation in schools, and at times take years before rebuilding broken school fences thus compromising the safety of the school community and property.

Some of the recommendations postulated are that:

  • SMTs need to be afforded ongoing training on school management and leadership;
  • the GDE needs to ensure that schools are well resourced with necessities that will enable implementation of policies such as Circular 13 possible;
  • the GDE must monitor policy implementation;
  • there needs to be a revisit or total scrapping of the grading of schools according to the quintile system, especially in townships, and the introduction of feeding schemes in all schools; 
  • there must be a reintroduction of sporting activities as part of the school curriculum;
  • the GDE must enforce strict adherence to the use and monitoring of both gate, class and subject/period registers to ensure safety and school attendance; etc.

Generally, the study adds value to the present topical disciplinary challenges pertinent to partial absenteeism (class bunking) and late coming not in Gauteng alone but in the Republic of South Africa and beyond its borders.

*Story submitted by Marietta Bettman

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