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Sunday, 5 May, 2002
Comment on schools' attendance registers
Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Minister of Education.
The Western Cape Education Department issued a circular dated 19 April 2002, to inform principals and officials about policy on maintaining an accurate record of staff attendance.
The policy has been criticised as an onerous measure, which does not take into account the realities of teaching practice.
I would like to assure teachers that we are very well aware of teaching practice, where teachers put in long hours after classes, to mark and prepare lessons, to coach sport, and to manage cultural events, among other vitally important activities.
We have been blessed with many thousands of dedicated teachers who are making a very real difference to education in this province and the country, and we deeply appreciate this contribution.
The attendance registers are not aimed at recording time spent on school-related activities outside official school hours. The contribution of our personnel to these activities is recognised in other ways.
Unfortunately, some teachers and officials do not have the same commitment to time on task as the vast majority of staff members who are doing so much to ensure that we deliver the best possible education to our learners.
We frequently encounter cases where teachers are late or leave school before official school hours have ended, and principals who never act when these incidents occur. When action is taken, there is often no written record of the alleged transgression. In some cases, the principal is the guilty party.
The registers will provide the necessary evidence of attendance, and will enable circuit managers to monitor schools where experience has shown that this needs to be done.
We are aware that some schools have other systems of monitoring staff attendance. Schools may use them, with the approval of their local Education Management and Development Centre. These systems must produce verifiable records, in line with the objectives of our policy on attendance record, as spelt out in the circular of 19 April.
While we acknowledge that most of our schools provide excellent role models, we have to implement uniform procedures to ensure that all schools are treated fairly and equally. I therefore appeal to all concerned to cooperate in the interests of the education system as a whole.Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
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