Dept. of Higher Education to introduce an attendance and punctuality policy to ensure Students are in Class on Time

As part of the turnaround strategy for the country’s Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, the Department of Higher Education and Training has introduced an attendance and punctuality policy which will ensure learners are in class and on time.
Students in attend classes in Johannesburg
The policy, which will be introduced in all the FETs across the country in 2014, will ensure institutional functionality, stability and will boost the pass and certification rates for the colleges, which have been identified as a crucial sector in providing the country with the skills it needs to grow economically.
According to the new policy, to reduce the time students are not in class either from sickness or other reasons, there will be a regular and consistent process put in place by college management to monitor, follow up and report attendance.
Students will be expected to explain in person the reason for their absence and the authorisation of absences will be limited to specific situations.
Briefing the media on the new policy, the Higher Education Director-General, Gwebinkundla Qonde, said poor attendance and consistent tardiness will have an impact on the students’ examinations and funding.
He said students will be allowed to write examinations for every subject they have attained a minimum of 80% attendance.
“FETs will be required to verify and provide attendance information to the department before the release of examination entry permits to students at the start of the examination session,” said Qonde.
In addition, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) payments for tuition, travel and accommodation will only be made if a student has a minimum of 80 attendances.
“In cases of authorised absence and constant lateness, disciplinary action will be taken,” said Qonde.
According to the policy, authorised absence can be given by a college lecture under exception and unavoidable personal circumstances or by agreement with an appropriate programme manager.
Qonde said according to their assessments, about 40% of learners do not attend lectures on time or regularly, which in turn costs government.
“Colleges must enrol students who have an appetite to learn…we saw fit that government must get the value for money from the operations of colleges by regulation and standardising good practice.”
He said any class session or activity missed, regardless of the cause, reduced the opportunity for learning and may adversely affect a student’s achievement in the course.
Government views the production of artisans and other mid-level skills offered at FETs as a priority. It is investing billions into the development of the colleges to turn them into institutions of choice. This will deal with the need of importing skills from other countries to deliver on the Strategic Infrastructure Projects”.
Government has increased funding for FET colleges from R3.9 billion to R5.6 billion in 2013.
NSFAS bursary funding at FET colleges has increased from R318 million in 2010 (benefiting 61 703 students) to R1.988 in 2013, targeting 222 820 students.
Ekurhuleni West College principal, Hellen Ntlatleng, hailed the policy, saying it was long overdue and would help in instilling discipline for learners whom she admitted some were overwhelmed by the FET environment.
“Levels of attendance do have a direct impact on the success of our students. Students are more likely to complete and achieve their qualification if they attend classes regularly.”