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20 Jun 2005

Factsheet 2 : Absenteeism Among Educators in South African Public Schools

Sue
Press Release

Key finding: Absenteeism from work is attributed to chronic conditions such TB, high-risk drinking, lung or breathing problems, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and anaemia. The burden of absenteeism on the education labour force was highest due to high blood pressure, followed by smoking, being HIV positive, stomach ulcers, arthritis or rheumatism, and high-risk drinking. Low morale at the educational institution, intention to quit teaching, low job satisfaction and high job stress are strongly associated with a higher number of self-rated absenteeism and ‘presenteeism’ (unhealthy days, or unproductive/unwell at work).

Results

All chronic conditions, including being HIV positive, smoking, and high-risk drinking, are associated with higher rates of self-rated absenteeism. The proportion of educators who were absent for more than ten days during the last year ranked highest among those who had been diagnosed with TB in the past five years (30.2%), high-risk drinking (25.6%), lung or breathing problem (23.6%), heart disease (22.5%), diabetes (20.2%), cancer (19.6%), and anaemia (19.3%).

Among HIV-positive educators, 17.1% were absent for a period of over ten days during the last year, compared to 13.8% of educators who were HIV-negative.

Also strongly associated with a higher number of self-rated absenteeism and ‘presenteeism’ (unhealthy days), are low morale at school, an intention to quit teaching, low job satisfaction and high job stress.

Educators who felt that they had some support in their role as educator and for AIDS work ? from the DoE, School Governing Body (SGB) learners? parents, unions and religious groups in the community ? reported considerably less days of absenteeism, and less ?unhealthy days?.

Table: Educator support and absenteeism and presenteeism (unhealthy days)

Characteristic   Count % educators absent >10days 95% CI % educators with >5 unhealthy days in past month 95% CI
Educator support Low 2359 18.4 16?21 17.3 16?19
Medium 7011 14.6 13?16 15 14?16
High 10334 12.2 11?13 10 10?11

In a question about support that could be provided by DoE in the care of ill teachers and learners, the most frequent responses were: treatment and medication (55.6%); financial support, such as grants and medical aid (54.3%); emotional support, such as home visits; and moral support (36.4%). Examples of material support from DoE included food (27.1%); assistance and support at work, such as substitute teachers; assistance and support for AIDS work, such as workshops (25.1%), the eradication of stigma and discrimination (17.9%), and the introduction of home schooling and care centres (17.3%).

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