Tens of thousands of primary school students in The Gambia lose significant learning time due to high teacher absenteeism that averages 14 per cent of teacher absence at least once a week, a new UNICEF study has shown. The report, Time to Teach: Teacher attendance and time on task in primary schools in The Gambia, released today in The Gambia on International Day of Education, provides insights into the main drivers of primary school teacher absenteeism, a major obstacle to addressing the learning crisis, as well as strategic recommendations to address the problem. The study, which combined qualitative and quantitative methods, was conducted across The Gambia, involving 260 participants, including students, teachers, and head teachers in public, private and grant-aided schools, national education leaders, regional education directors, cluster monitors, community representatives, and structured school observations. “Even before the pandemic, The Gambia, like most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, was already grappling with a learning crisis, compounded by limited teaching time of 734 hours annually, 146 hours short of the global standards,” said Gordon Jonathan Lewis, UNICEF The Gambia Representative. “Rapid expansions in primary school enrolment have put huge pressure on the country’s ability to train and retain teachers. These expansions represent an important progress for the country, so we must respond by investing more in keeping teachers in school and on task.” The study looks at four dimensions of teacher attendance: being in school; being punctual (not arriving late/leaving early); being in the classroom (while in school); and spending sufficient time on task (while in the classroom). It also identifies factors associated with teacher absenteeism at five different levels of the education system: national, regional, community, school, and teacher. The report provides recommendations that can strengthen the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education’s efforts to improve teachers’ time on task. Among other things, the report found that: 14% of teachers report absence from school at least once a week. 11% of teachers report arriving late/leaving early from school once a week – 12% in rural schools, 7% in urban schools. 10% of teachers report weekly classroom absence while in school – 13% in rural schools, 8% in urban schools. 10% of teachers report limited time on task at least once a week – 14% in rural schools, 6% in urban schools. Findings of the study point to salary, teachers’ health and transportation, monitoring, and teacher engagement in non-teaching activities as key reasons affecting teachers’ time on task. To address these issues, the study makes the following key recommendations: strengthening mechanisms for paying teachers’ salaries and other benefits; improving teachers’ access to health facilities and transportation services; strengthening collaboration between head teachers and cluster monitors; and ensuring teachers are not engaged in, or reduce the time spent on, non-teaching tasks during scheduled lessons.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Gambia. Send us your press releases to email@example.com © Press Release 2021 Disclaimer: The contents of this press release was provided from an external third party provider. This website is not responsible for, and does not control, such external content. This content is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis and has not been edited in any way. Neither this website nor our affiliates guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views or opinions expressed in this press release. The press release is provided for informational purposes only. The content does not provide tax, legal or investment advice or opinion regarding the suitability, value or profitability of any particular security, portfolio or investment strategy. Neither this website nor our affiliates shall be liable for any errors or inaccuracies in the content, or for any actions taken by you in reliance thereon. You expressly agree that your use of the information within this article is at your sole risk. To the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, this website, its parent company, its subsidiaries, its affiliates and the respective shareholders, directors, officers, employees, agents, advertisers, content providers and licensors will not be liable (jointly or severally) to you for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, incidental, punitive or exemplary damages, including without limitation, lost profits, lost savings and lost revenues, whether in negligence, tort, contract or any other theory of liability, even if the parties have been advised of the possibility or could have foreseen any such damages.