Teachers 'mired in red tape'
(November 2005)

Teachers spend an average of 3.2 hours a day in front of classes, with the rest of their time taken up by admin duties and assessments, says the HSRC.

Johannesburg - Teachers spend an average of 3.2 hours a day in front of classes, with the rest of their time taken up by administrative duties and assessments, according to a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report released on Wednesday.

"An average of 16 hours a week is spent teaching - or 3.2 hours a day.

"The remaining 25 hours is spent on administration and non-administration activities such as extra-mural studies," said the Educator Workload Report.

Three-quarters of teachers interviewed felt the integrated quality management system - a model to appraise individual teachers and evaluate the overall effectiveness of a school, which requires educators to complete numerous forms - had increased their workload.

More than 90% felt the new outcomes-based education curriculum and continuous assessment requirements had done so.

41% of time doing their jobs

"Ironically, it is precisely those policies that attempt to guarantee that instruction and assessment takes place, that undermine instructional time," reads the report, whose main author was HSRC research director Dr Linda Chisholm.

While policy required teachers to spend between 64% and 79% of their 35-hour week on teaching, they spent only an average of 41% of their total school-related time doing their jobs.

These findings were based on an analysis of a time-diary filled in by a nationally representative sample of 3 909 educators.

The study identified major time thieves as being management and supervision, assessment and evaluation, and extra-curricular activities.

The larger the school, the less teaching, and the more administration demands there were.

Women teachers spent more time than their male colleagues during formal school hours in core activities of teaching, preparation and planning.

Men, however, spent more time than women on non-core and non-administration-related activities.

Significant differences also existed between urban, semi-rural and rural areas.

Teachers in urban areas generally spent more time on teaching and administration than their rural colleagues.

"The general decline in time spent across the week is strongest amongst teachers in rural areas."

According to the survey, the erosion of instructional time was most severe in former black department of education and training schools and former coloured and Indian secondary schools.

Call to reduce class size

In former Indian and coloured primary schools and at the former white house of assembly and independent schools, more time was spent on instruction.

Among the recommendations made in the report were that class size be reduced and schools receive better administrative support.

The authors also suggested reducing required assessment, recording and reporting procedures.

The study was based on a national survey conducted in 900 schools and case studies in 10 schools.