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Secondary school teachers were 472,400 minutes late in 2015

Trinidad Express / The Teaching Service Commission (TSC) is moving to take disciplinary action against “delinquent” teachers who are consistently late or absent from school.

And TSC chairman Dr Fazal Ali says teachers’ unpunctuality and irregularity is directly linked to the increasing instances of violence in schools and poor academic performance of pupils.

Ali was speaking at a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting of Parliament on Wednesday, where the operations of the TSC were examined.

He described as alarming the amount of time lost due to absenteeism and unpunctuality.

The TSC has written several letters to the Ministry of Education requesting its intervention but nothing had been done to address the issue, he said.

As a result, the TSC will be appointing its own team to identify and investigate the “delinquent” teachers, with the aim of taking disciplinary action, Ali said.

Providing a break down of lost time, Ali said in the Port of Spain division in 2015, teachers at the primary school level clocked in a combined total of 15,863 minutes late.

At the secondary level, he said teachers were late by a combined total of 472,400 minutes.

He said many of the schools that have this problem are schools where pupils perform “horrendously” in examinations and where school violence occurs.

“When you look at the schools without the deans and middle management, with the absence of deans and Heads of Departments, and you look at the schools with the violence, and you look at the schools with the horrendous failure rates, and you look at the absenteeism, its almost a one to one mapping,” he said.

Committee member Khadijah Ameen cautioned Ali about making the inference that teacher absenteeism was the cause of school violence.

“The violence in the schools is not necessarily as a result of the absenteeism,” she said, adding that many teachers absent themselves because they are at risk. “There are many teachers who sign in and leave, or go late because they are afraid of the violence in the schools. So one feeds into the other,” she said.

Ali said the TSC is very serious in pursuing those teachers who are habitually late or absent.

Action will also be take against those who consistently exceed their allotted sick leave or casual leave.

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