Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga must urgently take steps to introduce teacher performance contracts in our education system to curb teacher absenteeism.
In a briefing yesterday the Minister revealed that South Africa has the worst teacher absenteeism rate of all Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, amounting to almost 7,5 million days lost last year. This is more than double the SADC average of 9%.
The Minister admitted that poor administration and a lack of professionalism are endemic in our education system and that it is 'embarrassing' to have to ask teachers to be at their posts. While we agree with the Minister that these problems are endemic, we also need to acknowledge that there are many caring teachers whose commitment and professionalism cannot be disputed.
We welcome the Minister's announcement of the introduction of a biometric electronic system to monitor teacher absenteeism. This is a step in the right direction, but it will not be sufficient to address the problem.
The Minister must overcome SADTU resistance to the institution of performance contracts for teachers, deputy principals and principals.
In replies to oral questions on 29 August 2012, Minister Motshekga stated her Department's intention to introduce performance agreements for principals and deputy principals by 1 January 2013. The Department's failure to do so is in all likelihood due to continued union resistance.
I will be submitting questions to the Minister to interrogate why the performance contracts have not been finalised and implemented. I will also be writing to the Chairperson of the Basic Education Portfolio Committee, Hope Malgas, to request that the issue of performance contracts be placed on the agenda as a matter of urgency.
The education of our youth is a priority. Teachers need to be in school, on time, and fully prepared. In order to ensure this, performance contracts should be non-negotiable.
Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education