Teacher absenteeism affecting student attendance
--- Education Ministry
Guyana Chronicle
July 20, 2003

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The Ministry of Education has expressed grave concerns about absenteeism of teachers who are attending the University of Guyana (UG).

The Ministry said teachers are abusing leave privileges and the Administrator of the Secondary Schools reform Project, (SSRP), Walter Alexander pointed out that in many cases out of a possible 36 sessions per month some teachers have been known to leave their classes unattended for up to 32 sessions.

For the six-month period between July and December last year in the twelve pilot schools of the SSSRP there have been an average attendance of 89.2 %. However, Alexander pointed out that while this may not reflect badly actually with an average student attendance of 65 % for the same period the teaching rate would be about 58%.

This he said is far from being acceptable by any standard.

He observed though that the Ministry is not opposed to the personal development of teachers but stressed that by the same token they are responsible for teaching the students.

The Administrator noted that the prerequisite for approving a teacherís attendance at UG is that the area of studies chosen must be relevant to the curriculum of the secondary education system. However, he disclosed in many cases teachers could be found at UG pursuing studies in marketing which is not taught in secondary schools.

Years of service in the teaching profession is another consideration for approval for teachers to attend UG, Alexander added.

Another concern of the Ministry Alexander said is some teachers utilize the time-off to conduct other private business, including private jobs.

He observed that it is interesting to note that private schools do not grant time-off to attend UG.

Over the past five years the lowest teacher attendance occurred between July and December of 1999, when average attendance was 86.6%, while the highest average attendance was 89.6% for the same period in 2001, Alexander disclosed.
(Government Information Agency-GINA)