Late Coming

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Late-coming a problem nationwide. Punctuality is important because learners who arrive late at school often disrupt lessons and the general management of the school. Research by Prof Martin Wittenberg at UCT shows that 20% of teaching time is lost on average each day due to late coming and absenteeism.

In an effort to address the problem of late-coming EE embarked on dynamic and creative campaign, driven by learners, to assist schools by encouraging learners to be at school on time. EE members gathered outside their schools by 7:30am. They sang, displayed posters about punctuality, and handed out information about the damage done by late-coming.

The campaign was successful because it was led by learners. Learners enforced the campaign by confronting teachers and their fellow learners who arrived late. The campaign made late-coming the subject of discussion and debate within schools and drastically reduced the number of late learners. At a high school in Khayelitsha, the number of later learners decreased from 121 at the beginning of the campaign in early May to just one person by the end of the month.


The School Day in South Africa – Prof. Martin Wittenberg (School of Economics, University of Cape Town)


We investigate the time allocation decisions by South African learners using the South African Time Use Survey. We show that punctuality appears to be a problem with around 20% of all learners seeming to arrive late. Punctuality and absenteeism seem to be problems disproportionately among poor learners.

Overall time devoted to schooling and homework does not show a consistent income gradient. Poor learners, however, spend considerable time each day on chores. The distribution of this additional work falls disproportionately on girls.

Some of the findings can be easily explained in terms of a simple human capital production frame- work, but some of the social constraints seem to require a broader framework in which choices by some individuals create externalities for others.