Exploring school management teams' approaches for managing teacher absenteeism in rural schools.
Gabuza, Sithembile Rejoice.
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The purpose of the study was to explore School Management Team (SMT) approaches for managing teacher absenteeism in the rural context of UMgungundlovu District. To fulfil the purpose of the study, key questions posed addressed the approaches used to manage teacher absenteeism, the challenges SMTs faced with managing teacher absenteeism and how they addressed these. Data generated from the key questions was used to answer the research question, pertaining to the approaches used for managing teacher absenteeism in a rural context. The interpretive paradigm and qualitative case study were embraced as a research approach, with data generated using semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Interviews were held with six SMT members (one acting principal, one Deputy Principal and four Heads of Department) from three high schools. Documents analysed were the time books, leave registers, teacher attendance policies, leave forms and substitute timetable. Findings of the study revealed that approaches used by SMTs in managing teacher absenteeism included formulating or following the Department of Basic Education (DoBE) teacher attendance policies; arranging leave in advance; reporting absence timeously; keeping a record of absence; encouraging punctuality; monitoring work; and motivating teachers. The challenges faced in managing teacher absenteeism were lack of passion for teaching; teachers’ personalities; teacher sickness; pressure on other teachers; and commuting. In addressing them and managing teacher absenteeism the findings revealed the strategies adopted by the SMTs to be filling the gaps; greater managerial grip; catching up with the schedule; and involving stakeholders. Some of the conclusions I made are that keeping records of managing teacher absenteeism is the first step of managing this problem, and that SMTs are the ones who create more challenges in managing teacher absenteeism by not monitoring it properly and by loosening the managerial grip. I recommend further study of the approaches used by SMTs to manage teacher absenteeism on a large scale that will involve a number of schools and a number of SMT members to produce quantitative reports.