Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 6 May 2010


Pupils need a good excuse to be absent

Pupils who are absent for 10 consecutive days without a valid reason will be deregistered from school – a move designed to reassert the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children attend school regularly.

The move falls under the new Learner Attendance Policy – gazetted by the Basic Education Department yesterday. The policy affects all public schools and will be implemented from January 1.

Another key aspect is that all pupils, with the exception of those in matric, must attend school on every school day including those before, during and after examinations.
 “It’s a mechanism to introduce a sense of responsibility on the shoulders of parents. The school will check with the parent as to why a pupil is not coming to school. If there’s no response, the school will cancel the enrolment of the child – not necessarily expel them,” said Basic Education Department spokesman Granville Whittle.
“The child will only be accepted back into the school if they bring their parent or caregiver parent, who will explain why the child was absent for so long. The child will then have to be re-registered by the parent.”

He could not comment on the extent of absenteeism at KZN schools, saying schools failed to report absenteeism to the provincial departments.

He said while most parents took their children’s education seriously, there was a lack of interest particularly in poor communities.

Not all education stakeholders have accepted the move. The Congress of SA Students (Cosas) slammed the policy, saying that teachers, many of whom had poor attendance records, should also be closely watched. Cosas national deputy secretary Sbonelo Shezi said the organization would meet the department to discuss the matter as they had not been consulted about it.
“There are teachers and principals who don’t go to school for more than 10 consecutive days. Why should such a policy only apply to pupils? We reject it. It can only work if the enforcement also applies to teachers,” he said.

However KZN chairman of the National Association of Governing Bodies, Reginald Chilisa, welcomed the move. He called on the government to draft legislation forcing parents to be more involved in their children’s schooling.
“They have a tendency of only coming to school on the first day (of the school year),” he said. – Sinegugu Ndlovu