Teacher absenteeism

To ensure education quality and student learning, addressing teacher absenteeism must be a top priority in each education system. Absenteeism is defined as ‘any failure of an employee to report for or to remain at work as scheduled, regardless of reason’ (Casio, 2003, cited in Rosenblatt and Shirom, 2006: 371). The reasons for teacher absenteeism can be encompassed in three main categories: authorized leaves, absences due to official duties and those without reason. In the first category, one can find maternity leaves, annual leaves, and medical leaves, among others. In the second one, one can find academic duties such as in-service teacher training; administrative duties such as submission of reports, marking national examinations or supporting national elections; and absences due to collecting salaries. In the third category, multiple issues are found such as tardiness, truancy, moonlighting, teacher strikes, ‘abscondment’, and ‘ghost teachers’ (ADEA WGEMPS, n.d.).

Teacher absenteeism is more prevalent in lower-income schools. Studies show that schools that have lower socioeconomic and minority students also have higher teacher absence rates and lower student test scores (Rogers and Vegas, 2009). High levels of absence undermine the quality of schooling, reduce parent confidence in the school, and tends to reduce student attendance.

Key variables that affect teacher absenteeism include work environment, school characteristics such as educational level, size, and income level, teacher health and job-related stress, and lastly, teacher experience. Failure to address teacher absenteeism further lowers teacher morale and sets low standards for other teachers. When teachers are absent without cause, the ability of disciplinary systems to respond in an appropriate and timely manner is fundamental.

References
ADEA (Association for Development of Education in Africa’s) WGEMPS (Working Group on Education Management and Policy Support). n.d. Policy Brief, Reducing Teacher Absenteeism: Solutions for Africa. Harare: ADEA WGEMPS. Retrieved from: https://www.adeanet.org/en/policy-briefs/reducing-teacher-absenteeism-solutions-africa

Rogers, F.H.; Vegas, E. 2009. No More Cutting Class? Reducing Teacher Absence and Providing Incentives for Performance. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4847. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/4043

Rosenblatt, Z.; Shirom, A. 2006. ‘School Ethnicity and Governance Influences on Work Absence of Teachers and School Administrators’. In: Educational Administration Quarterly, 42, 3, 361 384. Charlottesville: The University Council for Educational Administration. Retrieved from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.536.8376&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Promising policy options

Develop a tracking system to monitor teacher absenteeism

Developing a tracking system to monitor teacher absenteeism allows each school to identify patterns of absenteeism, establish a form of accountability and take measures accordingly. Note that research has found that tracking systems must not rely solely on headteachers (e.g. in a study done in Ecuador headteachers reported more than one-quarter of absent teachers as being present (Rogers and Vegas, 2009).) This means that if possible, appoint an attendance improvement coordinator who establishes an information data system to track the teacher’s attendance.

Conduct an attendance situation audit, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the system and surveying teachers and/or comparing standards to actual records to determine their effectiveness.

Perform regular supervision in schools to monitor attendance, which will help reduce teacher absenteeism (e.g. cluster monitors in The Gambia increased teacher attendance (Mulkeen, 2010)) and identify issues such as ‘ghost teachers’ (paying teachers that do not exist), moonlighting (teachers holding more than one job) and ‘abscondment’ (teachers who leave their posts for other posts without any formal notification).

Empower students, parents and community members to report teacher absence. For instance, there is a programme implemented in 99 primaries and 6 secondary schools in Uganda where parents and students sent SMS reporting teacher absence (ADEA WGEMPS, n.d.). Research has found that community and parents’ participation in monitoring teacher attendance, as well as effective school-based management (SBM) reforms, have had positive impacts on teacher attendance (e.g. EDUCO in El Salvador as well as SBM in Honduras, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua (Rogers and Vegas, 2009).).

Note, nevertheless, that monitoring depends highly on the degree of community’s involvement as well as the capacity and power that they have to take action against excessive absenteeism, with monitoring by community members and parents being difficult to implement in practice. For example, through the programme META –Mejor Educación a través de más Tiempo en el Aula– implemented in Peru in 2004, parents voluntarily monitored teacher attendance in schools three times a day. Although the research found that the programme was giving the expected results it was discontinued two years later because of logistical challenges (Cueto et al., 2008).

Disciplinary action to decrease absenteeism

Research shows that most school systems prefer ‘low-stakes’ disciplinary interventions than real disciplinary sanctions which might lead to dismissal (Mulkeen, 2010). For example, teachers’ pay could be based on the number of days that they were present or make them pay a fine when they exceed the admitted leave days as is the case in Liberia, where teachers who are absent more than three days per month must pay a fine (Mulkeen, 2010). Another example is in Rajasthan, India, during a programme implemented by the NGO Seva Mandir, where teachers both earned bonuses for every day they attended above the required minimum and were fined for every day they did not attend below the required minimum. Findings revealed that teacher’s absenteeism decreased by half and students’ scores improved (Duflo, Hanna and Ryan, 2012).)

Other important disciplinary recommendations to combat teacher absenteeism are:

  • reduce the number of sick days available to teachers;
  • restrict leave on specific dates. Districts discourage teachers from using leave by restricting the days when leave can be used, such as before or after holidays and vacations, during the first and last week of the school year, during state testing and/or on professional development days.);
  • require medical certification for sick leave;
  • make teacher attendance a component of teacher evaluations;
  • provide employee assistance programmes of personal counselling for personnel who have excessive absences;
  • conduct workshops explaining to teachers the effect of their absenteeism rates on students’ outcomes; and
  • design and implement a code of conduct (or reviewing and existing one) in order to regulate teachers’ attendance misconducts. (For more information on how to design and use teachers’ codes of conduct consult: Poisson, M. 2009. Guidelines for the design and effective use of teachers’ codes of conduct. IIEP-UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved from: http://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/185010E.pdf.)

Pecuniary and non-pecuniary incentives to complement monitoring and supervising systems

Research has found that pecuniary incentives can increase teacher attendance (e.g. META programme in Peru (Guerrero et al., 2012); programme in Rajasthan, India (Duflo, Hanna and Ryan, 2012).)

Some examples of non-pecuniary incentives which can help reduce teacher absenteeism are:

  • establish a motivating career structure where attendance plays a key role in teacher’s promotions (Crehan, L. 2016);
  • provide incentives, such as ticket vouchers for university events or conferences, to those teachers who meet teacher attendance goals or improve their students’ attendance;
  • provide quality housing near or within the school (e.g. Papua New Guinea and Uganda (Rogers and Vargas, 2009).); and
  • school infrastructure can influence attendance, provision of hygienic facilities and electricity is therefore essential. (For more on this subject, see Policy page School physical infrastructure.)

Teacher motivation and satisfaction

Teacher motivation is a substantial factor in increasing teacher attendance, with several factors contributing to high morale in a work environment. All the teachers should be treated fairly and equally and they should be valued, appreciated and recognized for their work.

Fair wages and career structures play an essential role in teachers’ motivation (for specific information on career structures consult IIEP-UNESCO teacher careers research project: IIEP-UNESCO. n.d. Teacher Careers. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/our-expertise/teacher-careers. For information about salary policies consult the following Policy pages Teacher benefits; Logistic constraints in paying teachers; and Financial constraints.)

Improve work conditions for employees and implement supporting measures, such as small salary increases, providing assistance in specific tasks such as student discipline and feedback on work performance, etc.

Improve the school environment overall to haul teachers’ intrinsic motivation and commitment to the profession by, for instance, letting teachers have the autonomy over their work, encouraging good relationships and collaboration opportunities between the colleagues, etc. (Crehan, L. 2016). For more information consult Policy page School climate.

For teachers who are returning back from their leave, they should be welcomed back and recognized for being back. Teacher burnout can contribute to teacher absenteeism, so when absenteeism is related to teacher burn out, the following can be considered (according to Leithwood, 1998):

  • help individual teachers identify short-term signposts of progress in meeting their own and the school’s improvement goals;
  • rotate teachers’ classroom assignments so as to ensure that the same teachers do not always have, year after year, especially difficult students; and
  • provide adequate financial and material resources and ensuring that the performance expectations are personalized to each teacher.

Strong local or central management system

Develop a strong local or central management system to regulate teacher absenteeism and create mechanisms to place substitute teachers when needed.

Good leadership and effective management

Good leadership and effective management inside the school is essential to control and reduce teacher absenteeism. Headteachers should explain attendance expectations to teachers at the beginning of the school year. Involve teachers in developing clear absence guidelines as well as short-term and long-term attendance improvement plans and monitor attendance throughout the year, share this information with the local and central levels.

Minimize official administrative absences (e.g. professional development opportunities must occur outside teaching hours.) and require that teachers speak directly to headteachers –or attendance improvement coordinators– when they are calling in sick. Even though this might increase headteachers’ workload, it is found to be very effective in reducing teacher absenteeism.

Explore different payment methods for teachers in remote areas instead of obliging them to travel for their salary (e.g. utilize electronic or mobile banking platforms, or implement a paycheck system. For more on this subject, see Policy page Logistic constraints in paying teachers.)

References
ADEA (Association for Development of Education in Africa’s) WGEMPS (Working Group on Education Management and Policy Support). n.d. Policy Brief, Reducing Teacher Absenteeism: Solutions for Africa. Harare: ADEA WGEMPS. Retrieved from: https://www.adeanet.org/en/policy-briefs/reducing-teacher-absenteeism-solutions-africa

Best, A.; Tournier, B.; Chimier, C. 2018. Topical questions on teacher management. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/topical_questions_on_teacher _management _english.pdf

Cooper, R.; Jeeva, S.; Honeyman, C. 2017. Technologies to improve teacher attendance and motivation. Debate –  IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Accessed 14 May 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/technologies-to-improve-teacher-attendance-and-motivation

Crehan, L. 2016. Exploring the impact of career models on teacher motivation. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000246252_eng

Cueto, S.; Torero, M.; León, J.; Deustua, J. 2008. Asistencia docente y rendimiento escolar: el caso del programa META. Working Paper No. 53. Lima: GRADE (Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo). Retrieved from: https://core.ac.uk/ download/pdf/6366067.pdf?repositoryId=153

Duflo E.; Hanna R.; Ryan, S.P. 2012. ‘Incentives work: getting teachers to come to school’. In: American Economic Review, 102(4), 1241-1278. Retrieved from: https://economics. mit.edu/files/5582

Duflo, E.; Hanna R. 2005. Monitoring works: getting teachers to come to school. Working Paper No.11880. Cambridge: NBER. Retrieved from: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers. cfm?abstract_id=875731&rec=1&srcabs=2331722&alg=7&pos=9

Finlayson, M. 2009. ‘The Impact of Teacher Absenteeism on Student Performance: The Case of the Cobb County School District’. In: Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects. Paper 4. Retrieved from: http://www.political-thinker.com/know/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Impact-of-Teacher-Absenteeism-on-Student-Performance-The-Ca.pdf

Guerrero, G.; Leon, J.; Zapata, M.; Sugimaru, C.; Cueto, S. 2012. What works to improve teacher attendance in developing countries? A systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08a6040f0b652dd0006da/Q39Teacher_attendance_2012Guerrero.pdf

Hanover Research. 2012. Addressing Teacher Absenteeism and Attendance. Washington D.C.: Hanover Research. Retrieved from: http://gssaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Addressing-Teacher-Absenteeism-and-Attendance-1.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. n.d. Teacher Careers. IIEP-UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/our-expertise/teacher-careers

Kremer, M.; Chaudhury, N.; Rogers, F.H.; Muralidharan, K.; Hammer, J. 2005. ‘Teacher absence in India: A Snapshot’. In: Journal of the European Economic Association, 3, 658–667. Retrieved from: http://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/36660_Teacher_absence_in_India_EEA_9_15_04_-_South_Asia_session_version.pdf

Mulkeen, A. 2010a. ‘Chapter 8 Teacher Absence, Pay Distribution, and Discipline’. In: Teachers in Anglophone Africa: Issues in teacher supply, training, and management. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources /278200-1099079877269/Teachers_Anglophone_Africa.pdf

Narayan, K.; Mooij, J. 2010. ‘Solutions to Teacher Absenteeism in Rural Government Primary Schools in India: A Comparison of Management Approaches’. In: The Open Education Journal, 3, 63-71. Rotterdam: International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam.  Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a22a/6c3dbe09c3f6e53ebc0b5e7cce18720ede3b.pdf

NCTQ (The National Council on Teacher Quality). 2014. Roll call: The importance of teacher attendance. Washington, D.C.: NCTQ. Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/RollCall_Teacher Attendance

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2009c. Education at a Glance. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/education/skills-beyond-school/43636332.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2014c. Talis 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/8714021e.pdf?expires= 1520865669&id=id&accname=ocid195767&checksum=47AD7FC6F877F75C6FE1E8D66641AF7B

Poisson, M. 2009. Guidelines for the design and effective use of teachers codes of conduct. IIEP-UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved from: http://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/185010E.pdf

Rogers, F.H.; Vegas, E. 2009. No More Cutting Class? Reducing Teacher Absence and Providing Incentives for Performance. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4847. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated /en/696251468041441277/pdf/WPS4847.pdf

Smith, G.G. n.d. ‘Increasing teacher attendance’. In: SubJournal. 2(1)8-16. Logan: Substitute Teaching Institute of the College of Education at Utah State University. Retrieved from: http://88pqz2md3zt3enasj4b54xk180s.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/IncreasingTeacherAttendance.pdf

Suryahadi, A.; Sambodho, P. 2013. Assessment of Policies to Improve Teacher Quality and Reduce Teacher Absenteeism. Jakarta: The SMERU Research Institute. Retrieved from: https://media.neliti.com/media/publications/51116-EN-assessment-of-policies-to-improve-teacher-quality-and-reduce-teacher-absenteeism.pdf

Treviño, E.; Villalobos, C.; Baeza,A. 2016. ‘4.4. Uso del tiempo’. In: Recomendaciones de Políticas Educativas en América Latina en Base al TERCE (p.122-132). Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Oficina Regional de Educación para América Latina y el Caribe). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/Recomendaciones-politicas-educativas-TERCE.pdf

UNESCO. 2015e. Teacher policy development guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002352/235272e.pdf

Rogers, F.H.; Vegas, E. 2009. No More Cutting Class? Reducing Teacher Absence and Providing Incentives for Performance. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4847. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/4043

Best, A.; Tournier, B.; Chimier, C. 2018. Topical questions on teacher management. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/topical_questions_on_teacher _management _english.pdf

Cooper, R.; Jeeva, S.; Honeyman, C. 2017. Technologies to improve teacher attendance and motivation. Debate –  IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Accessed 14 May 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/technologies-to-improve-teacher-attendance-and-motivation

Crehan, L. 2016. Exploring the impact of career models on teacher motivation. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000246252_eng

Cueto, S.; Torero, M.; León, J.; Deustua, J. 2008. Asistencia docente y rendimiento escolar: el caso del programa META. Working Paper No. 53. Lima: GRADE (Grupo de Análisis para el Desarrollo). Retrieved from: https://core.ac.uk/ download/pdf/6366067.pdf?repositoryId=153

Duflo E.; Hanna R.; Ryan, S.P. 2012. ‘Incentives work: getting teachers to come to school’. In: American Economic Review, 102(4), 1241-1278. Retrieved from: https://economics. mit.edu/files/5582

Duflo, E.; Hanna R. 2005. Monitoring works: getting teachers to come to school. Working Paper No.11880. Cambridge: NBER. Retrieved from: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers. cfm?abstract_id=875731&rec=1&srcabs=2331722&alg=7&pos=9

Finlayson, M. 2009. ‘The Impact of Teacher Absenteeism on Student Performance: The Case of the Cobb County School District’. In: Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects. Paper 4. Retrieved from: http://www.political-thinker.com/know/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Impact-of-Teacher-Absenteeism-on-Student-Performance-The-Ca.pdf

Guerrero, G.; Leon, J.; Zapata, M.; Sugimaru, C.; Cueto, S. 2012. What works to improve teacher attendance in developing countries? A systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08a6040f0b652dd0006da/Q39Teacher_attendance_2012Guerrero.pdf

Hanover Research. 2012. Addressing Teacher Absenteeism and Attendance. Washington D.C.: Hanover Research. Retrieved from: http://gssaweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Addressing-Teacher-Absenteeism-and-Attendance-1.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. n.d. Teacher Careers. IIEP-UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/en/our-expertise/teacher-careers

Kremer, M.; Chaudhury, N.; Rogers, F.H.; Muralidharan, K.; Hammer, J. 2005. ‘Teacher absence in India: A Snapshot’. In: Journal of the European Economic Association, 3, 658–667. Retrieved from: http://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/36660_Teacher_absence_in_India_EEA_9_15_04_-_South_Asia_session_version.pdf

Mulkeen, A. 2010a. ‘Chapter 8 Teacher Absence, Pay Distribution, and Discipline’. In: Teachers in Anglophone Africa: Issues in teacher supply, training, and management. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources /278200-1099079877269/Teachers_Anglophone_Africa.pdf

Narayan, K.; Mooij, J. 2010. ‘Solutions to Teacher Absenteeism in Rural Government Primary Schools in India: A Comparison of Management Approaches’. In: The Open Education Journal, 3, 63-71. Rotterdam: International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam.  Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/a22a/6c3dbe09c3f6e53ebc0b5e7cce18720ede3b.pdf

NCTQ (The National Council on Teacher Quality). 2014. Roll call: The importance of teacher attendance. Washington, D.C.: NCTQ. Retrieved from: https://www.nctq.org/dmsView/RollCall_Teacher Attendance

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2009c. Education at a Glance. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd.org/education/skills-beyond-school/43636332.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2014c. Talis 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning. Paris: OECD. Retrieved from: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/download/8714021e.pdf?expires= 1520865669&id=id&accname=ocid195767&checksum=47AD7FC6F877F75C6FE1E8D66641AF7B

Poisson, M. 2009. Guidelines for the design and effective use of teachers codes of conduct. IIEP-UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved from: http://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/185010E.pdf

Rogers, F.H.; Vegas, E. 2009. No More Cutting Class? Reducing Teacher Absence and Providing Incentives for Performance. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4847. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/4043

Smith, G.G. n.d. ‘Increasing teacher attendance’. In: SubJournal. 2(1)8-16. Logan: Substitute Teaching Institute of the College of Education at Utah State University. Retrieved from: http://88pqz2md3zt3enasj4b54xk180s.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/IncreasingTeacherAttendance.pdf

Suryahadi, A.; Sambodho, P. 2013. Assessment of Policies to Improve Teacher Quality and Reduce Teacher Absenteeism. Jakarta: The SMERU Research Institute. Retrieved from: https://media.neliti.com/media/publications/51116-EN-assessment-of-policies-to-improve-teacher-quality-and-reduce-teacher-absenteeism.pdf

Treviño, E.; Villalobos, C.; Baeza,A. 2016. ‘4.4. Uso del tiempo’. In: Recomendaciones de Políticas Educativas en América Latina en Base al TERCE (p.122-132). Santiago de Chile: OREALC-UNESCO (Oficina Regional de Educación para América Latina y el Caribe). Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Santiago/pdf/Recomendaciones-politicas-educativas-TERCE.pdf

UNESCO. 2015e. Teacher policy development guide. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002352/235272e.pdf

Other policy options

Information and communication technologies

Use information and communication technologies (ICT) to report teacher absenteeism on a daily basis in schools. For instance:

  • cameras (e.g. date- and time-stamped photographs in Rajasthan, India (Duflo, Hanna,  and Ryan, 2012));
  • cell-phones (e.g. The Gambia implemented a mobile platform to track absenteeism (ADEA WGEMPS, n.d.); Indonesia’s initiative –National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) – monitors teacher attendance through daily pictures taken and submitted through a phone application (Cheng and Moses, 2016));
  • specifically designed electronic systems (e.g. Human Capital Leave Management System HC-LMS implemented in South Africa (ADEA WGEMPS, n.d.)); and
  • biometric fingerprint control instead of using traditional logbooks (e.g. Gujarat, India (Cooper, Jeeva, and Honeyman, 2017; Cooper, n.d.)).

Although research has found that using ICT to monitor teacher absenteeism has increased teacher attendance, they still pose multiple challenges, the most important one being teacher unions’ resistance (e.g. South Africa’s HC-LMS program was rejected by teacher unions (ADEA WGEMPS, n.d.)). Additionally, logistical conditions such as internet availability, electricity supply, cameras and phones available also pose a problem. Lastly, with limited budgets, the costs that represent the implementation of such methods may make their implementation unfeasible.

Mentoring

A study in New York City found evidence that teacher mentoring might reduce absence, however further exploration of this topic is needed (Rockoff, 2008, cited in Rogers and Vegas, 2009).

Small school model with multi-grade teaching

The need to view multi-grade teaching as a sub-optimal solution since –although it might have benefits in school provision (see the following Policy pages Insufficient budget; Geographic school distribution; Availability of last grades; and Constraints to attendance)– research has found that it can have a negative impact on teacher attendance (Kremer et al., 2005).

Shorter school week

Implementing a 4-day (or 4.5 days) school week has been found to increase teacher attendance rates as it gives additional time for professional development opportunities and teacher planning. It also decreases the need for substitute teachers. Nevertheless, such arrangements can be considered controversial, which is why further research and context-based solutions are needed (e.g. France’s four-week day controversy). It is also necessary to keep in mind that these type of arrangements might imply including extra time to the remaining school days in order to meet annual instruction time requirements. For instance, in the United States around 560 districts in 25 states have included extra time to the remaining four days in school; OECD points out an average of 799 hours of compulsory instruction time per year in its members states (OECD, 2018a: 334).)

Hire ‘para-teachers’

‘Para-teachers’ or ‘contract teachers’ are teachers ‘who are hired on short, flexible contracts to work in primary schools and in non-formal education centres (NFEs) that are run by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and local governments’ (Duflo E.; Hanna R.; Ryan, S.P. 2012:1241). ‘Para-teachers’ can be easily monitored and supervised as they ‘do not form an entrenched constituency, they are already subject to yearly renewal of their contract, and there is a long queue of qualified job applicants.’ (2012:1242). Therefore, by employing them and providing them with incentives, teacher absenteeism could be reduced. Yet, keep in mind that this type of policy poses significative parallel challenges, for instance, it can lead to tensions with regular teachers –civil servants–  and affect the quality of education, as much as the respect given to the teaching profession.

References
Anderson, M.; Walker, M.B. 2015. ‘Does Shortening the School Week Impact Student Performance? Evidence from the Four-Day School Week’. In: Education Finance and Policy, 10(3), 314-349. Retrieved from: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/full/10.1162/EDFP_a_00165

Burke, L. 2015. Haiti: Can smartphones make schools better? Washington D.C.: The World Bank, Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/ curated/en/908681468001491877/pdf/102710-BRI-E2P-Haiti-Ed-Read2-Box394838B-PUBLIC.pdf

Cheng, X.J.; Moses, K. 2016. Promoting transparency through information: A global review of school  report cards. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/promoting_transparency_through_information.pdf

Cooper, R. n.d. Teacher Absenteeism and Accountability in Southern Rural Gujarat. Accessed 19 February 2019: https://convention2.allacademic.com/one/cies/cies17/index.php?cmd=Online +Program+View+Paper&selected_paper_id=1216826&PHPSESSID=ak78s82uvs7be49djk1nd5sle1 

Duflo E.; Hanna R.; Ryan, S.P. 2012. ‘Incentives work: getting teachers to come to school’. In: American Economic Review, 102(4), 1241-1278. Retrieved from: https://economics. mit.edu/files/5582

Kremer, M.; Chaudhury, N.; Rogers, F.H.; Muralidharan, K.; Hammer, J. 2005. ‘Teacher absence in India: A Snapshot’. In: Journal of the European Economic Association, 3, 658–667. Retrieved from: http://etico.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/36660_Teacher_absence_in_India_EEA_9_15_04_-_South_Asia_session_version.pdf

Mulkeen, A. 2010a. ‘Chapter 8 Teacher Absence, Pay Distribution, and Discipline’. In: Teachers in Anglophone Africa: Issues in teacher supply, training, and management. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1099079877269/Teachers_Anglophone_Africa.pdf

Nedungadi, P.; Mulki K.; Raman R. 2017. Improving educational outcomes & reducing absenteeism at remote villages with mobile technology and WhatsAPP: Findings from rural India. New York: Springer. Retrieved from: https://www.amrita.edu/system/files/publications/improving-educational-outcomes-reducing-absenteeism-at-remote-villages-with-mobile-technology-and-whatsappfindings-from-rural-india_2.pdf

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). 2018a. ‘Chapter D: Teachers, the Learning Environment and the Organization of Schools, Indicator D1: How much time do students spend in the classroom’. In: Education at a Glance 2018: OECD Indicators (pp. 333-349). Paris: OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2018-en

Ordway, D.M. 2018. A Four-Day School Week? Preliminary research suggests district savings are small, and critics contend that low-income kids may suffer more. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved from: https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/06/four-day-school-week

Plucker, J.A.; Cierniak, K.; Chamberlin, M. 2012. ‘The Four-Day School Week: Nine Years Later’. In: Center For Evaluation & Education Policy, Education Policy Brief, 10, 6, 1-8. Bloomington: Center for Evaluation & Education Policy Indiana University. Retrieved from: http://ceep.indiana.edu/pdf/PB_V10N6_2012_EPB.pdf

Rogers, F.H.; Vegas, E. 2009. No More Cutting Class? Reducing Teacher Absence and Providing Incentives for Performance. Policy Research Working Paper No. 4847. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/4043

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

All of the policies and strategies previously recommended apply for this category. However, when designing and implementing the aforementioned policies, educational planners, policymakers and school managers should analyse if there are underlying gender issues affecting and leading to higher absenteeism rates and thus target policy options accordingly. In some contexts, female teachers’ absenteeism rates are higher than males’ (Bennell et al., 2002 cited by Guerrero et al., 2012; Chaudhury et al., 2006, cited by Nedungadi, Mulki and Raman, 2017) while in other contexts, male teachers’ absenteeism rates are higher than females’ (Indonesia, 2014).

References
Best, A.; Tournier B.; Chimier C. 2018. Topical questions on teacher management. Paris : IIEP-UNESCO . Retrieved from: www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/topical_questions_on_teache r_management_english.pdf

Guerrero, G.; Leon, J.; Zapata, M.; Sugimaru, C.; Cueto, S. 2012. What works to improve teacher attendance in developing countries? A systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08a6040f0b652dd0006da/Q39Teacher_attendance_2012Guerrero.pdf

Indonesia. 2014. Ministry of Education and Culture. Study on Teacher Absenteeism in Indonesia 2014. Jakarta: Ministry of Education and Culture. Retrieved from: https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/176315/ino-study-teacher-absenteeism-2014.pdf

Nedungadi, P.; Mulki K.; Raman R. 2017. Improving educational outcomes & reducing absenteeism at remote villages with mobile technology and WhatsAPP: Findings from rural India. New York: Springer. Retrieved from: https://www.amrita.edu/system/files/publications/improving-educational-outcomes-reducing-absenteeism-at-remote-villages-with-mobile-technology-and-whatsappfindings-from-rural-india_2.pdf

Suryahadi, A.; Sambodho, P. 2013. Assessment of Policies to Improve Teacher Quality and Reduce Teacher Absenteeism. Jakarta: The SMERU Research Institute. Retrieved from: https://media.neliti.com/media/publications/51116-EN-assessment-of-policies-to-improve-teacher-quality-and-reduce-teacher-absenteeism.pdf

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of society (UNICEF, 2013). Teacher absenteeism affects every student’s learning process, but especially that of students with disabilities, who already face multiple barriers in schooling and learning. Particular attention should be therefore given to this issue. Policy-makers, educational planners, school management and teachers themselves must make sure that every minute that a student with disability spends in the classroom is used to its fullest potential.

In order to tackle the issue, all of the previously recommended policies and strategies apply.

References
Best, A.; Tournier B.; Chimier C. 2018. Topical questions on teacher management. Paris : IIEP-UNESCO . Retrieved from: www.iiep.unesco.org/sites/default/files/topical_questions_on_teache r_management_english.pdf

Guerrero, G.; Leon, J.; Zapata, M.; Sugimaru, C.; Cueto, S. 2012. What works to improve teacher attendance in developing countries? A systematic review. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Retrieved from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/57a08a6040f0b652dd0006da/Q39Teacher_attendance_2012Guerrero.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

Promising policy options

All of the policies and strategies previously recommended applications for this category. While there is no specific literature on reducing absenteeism in the host communities for displaced populations, it is a very relevant issue for these populations. One of the measures could be providing teachers from displaced populations adequate training to be hired as teachers in the host communities. Creating work opportunities for these teachers, especially in refugee centres, would help in curbing the issue with a shortage of teachers.

All of the policies and strategies previously recommended apply for this category.

References
Fernando M. Reimers. Teachers for Migrants’ and Refugees’ Rights. Educating refugees: an opportunity for teachers’ voice and leadership. Accessed on 24 May, 2019. https://www.education4refugees.org/blog/288-educating-refugees-an-opportunity-for-teachers-voice-and-leadership

UNESCO. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review: Creating Sustainable Futures for All. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000246045

UNESCO. n.d. Enforcing the right to education of Refugees: Policy perspective. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000146931?posInSet=22&queryId=71a0a70a-ea47-49f4-88f3-9c737d27f0ca

Policies for minority populations

Promising policy options

It is stressed that teachers from an ethnic minority background are important role models for children from ethnic minorities. Hiring more teachers from the minority background will ensure adequate representation of the minority group in the teaching workforce. However, hiring more teachers from the ethnic minority groups have not shown any direct correlation with reducing teacher absenteeism. Further research would be required for this arena.

* All of the policies and strategies previously recommended apply for this category.

References
Maureen Lewis. Gunilla Pettersson. 2009. Governance in Education: Raising Performance in the Sector Overview of Issues and Evidence (Draft). The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTHDOFFICE/Resources/5485726-1239047988859/GAC_in_education_master_12_April_2009.pdf

OECD. 2003. Attracting, developing and retaining effective teachers. Country Background Report for The Netherlands. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/netherlands/2501446.pdf

Françoise Cros. Yael Duthilleul. Cristián Cox. Kari Kantasalmi. 2004. Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers Country Note: Spain. Retrieved from: https://www.oecd.org/spain/32185669.pdf

UNCEN. UNIPA. SMERU. BPS. UNICEF. 2012. A study on Teacher Absenteeism in Papua and West Papua. “We Like being taught”. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/Teacher_Absenteeism_Study_Papua_ENGLISH.pdf

ACDP (Analytical and Capacity Development Partnership). 2014. Study on Teacher Absenteeism in Indonesia. Chapter 10: Policy Implications. Retrieved from: https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/176315/ino-study-teacher-absenteeism-2014.pdf

Policies for OVCs and HIV affected populations

Promising policy options

Comprehensive HIV/AIDS education sector workplace policy and programs

HIV/AIDS work place policies should be developed with key stakeholders, such as teacher unions, HIV positive teacher networks, civil society, and community organizations. In line with the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the workplace, these policies should cover issues including:

  • medical support, including prevention and treatment services. (Crucially, access to ARVs, and VCTs );
  • care services including counseling and psychological support (counsellors can make regular school visits);
  • deployment and transfers (provisions for teachers needing closer access to health care services);
  • teaching coverage, sickness, absence provisions and reintegration into work after leave;
  • recruitment, promotion and retirement provisions (there should be no requirement of HIV screening);
  • alternative working arrangements (such as increased flexibility in working hours, changing responsibilities); and
  • protection from discrimination, addressing issues of HIV status disclosure, and confidentiality.

Teachers should be made widely aware of these policies and all of the services available to them. In some cases, countries that have had grants available for treatment costs were underutilized because teachers’ did not know that they existed (UNESCO, 2008b). Teacher unions can aid the Ministries of Education in disseminating policies and relevant information about services available.

Implementation of HIV/AIDS workplace policy can be supported by:

  • sufficient training and capacity development of headteachers and school leaders;
  • institutional framework, especially concerning the management of human and financial resources;
  • a functioning grievance mechanism, with no fear of retribution;
  • collaboration with teacher unions, Ministry of Labor, and HIV positive teacher networks; and
  • consideration of the specific needs of teachers, considering factors such as sex, location, and level of access to services.
References
IIEP UNESCO. 2005. Towards an AIDS-Free generation. The global initiative on HIV/AIDS and education: Briefs for decision – makers. Paris: IIEP UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/in/rest/annotationSVC/DownloadWatermarkedAttachment/attach_import_bcbe762f-1d39-4f58-9a0f-0d1af6ab25ca?_=139831eng.pdf

ILO. 2001. An ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work. Geneva: International Labor Organization. Retrieved from: https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—ed_protect/—protrav/—ilo_aids/documents/publication/wcms_113783.pdf

ILO. 2003. Implementing the ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work: an education and training manual. Geneva: International Labor Organization. Retrieved from: https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/ilo-bookstore/order-online/books/WCMS_PUBL_9221134628_EN/lang–en/index.htm

Kenya. 2007. Teachers Service Commission. Teacher service commission sub-sector workplace policy on HIV and AIDS. Retrieved from: https://hivhealthclearinghouse.unesco.org/library/documents/teachers-service-commission-sub-sector-workplace-policy-hiv-and-aids

UNESCO. 2008a. Booklet 3: Educator development and support. Good policy and practice in HIV & AIDS and education (booklet series). Paris, UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.hivpolicy.org/Library/HPP001591.pdf

UNESCO. 2008b.EDUCAIDS technical briefs. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000158436

Teacher training institutions educate on HIV/AIDS issues, provide support and access to services

A key preventative measure is supplying teachers with HIV knowledge and support services during pre-service training, which also helps in reducing the discrimination and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs, which can later affect teacher’s school environments as well as the values that they pass on to their students.

Mainstream HIV/AIDS into TTC institutional policies and programs by partnering with clinics, NGOs, civil society organizations to strengthen capacity, and utilize free training and ARV and VCT services. Facilitate access to VCT centers with free testing and counselling, condoms and reproductive and health services (usually health clinics provide referrals to local services). Get HIV/AIDS prevention integrated into curriculum, and tested in examinations.

Foster regional cooperation, such as regional inter-country information network to share best practices, funding financial assistance and scholarships to prevent teaching students from turning to transactional sex. Ministry of Education or regional office can reward model TTCs in their responses to HIV/AIDS, and share their best practices with other institutions.

References
Desalegn, A.; Getnet, T.; Cherinet, H. 2008. The response of teacher training institutions to HIV and AIDS: A case study of Ethiopia. Paris: IIEP UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000179865

Nzokia, C; Ramos, L. 2008. Training teachers in an HIV and AIDS context: Experiences from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. Paris: IIEP UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000163605

Planning for the effects of HIV/AIDS on teacher supply and absenteeism

Strengthen EMIS to assess the impact of HIV related absenteeism, mortality and attrition and apply data in planning by having decentralized information systems monitoring teacher absenteeism, and attrition.

Raise the capacity of teacher training institutions based on projected supply constraints. For example, Guinea increased the output of its teacher training colleges tenfold, by shortening the duration of training courses (World Bank, 2006). However, attention must be paid to the effects on training quality.

References
Clarke, D.J. 2008. Heroes and villains: Teachers in the education response to HIV. Paris: IIEP UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000181572

IIEP UNESCO. 2005. Towards an AIDS-Free generation. The global initiative on HIV/AIDS and education: Briefs for decision – makers. Paris: IIEP UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/in/rest/annotationSVC/DownloadWatermarkedAttachment/attach_import_bcbe762f-1d39-4f58-9a0f-0d1af6ab25ca?_=139831eng.pdf

World Bank. 2006. Ensuring education access for orphans and vulnerable children: A planner’s handbook 2nd edition. Washington D.C.: World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/124021468333940631/Ensuring-education-access-for-orphans-and-vulnerable-children-a-planners-handbook

Policies for pastoralist and nomadic populations

All of the policies and strategies previously recommended apply for this category. While there is no specific literature on reducing absenteeism in pastoralist/nomadic schools, it is a very relevant issue for these populations, especially in poorly resourced areas, and underfunded alternative schools. Inadequate compensation for teachers in pastoralist/nomadic areas fuels the situation, as well as the lack of recognition of some alternative school teachers by the formal education system.

Updated on 2021-06-16

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