Prevalence of Professional Misconduct

Prevalence of Professional Misconduct in Nzega District, Tanzania Public Secondary Schools

Stephen Mabagala
University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania


The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers in Nzega District, Tanzania public secondary schools. This study employed descriptive survey research design. The sample consisted of 403 respondents in which teachers and students were randomly selected, while heads of schools and Teachers Services Department (TSD) officials were purposively selected based on their administrative roles. Data for this study were collected through questionnaire and semi-structured interview guide. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics using SPSS version 20. Findings revealed that teachers’ professional misconduct was low. However, financial mismanagement, negligence of duty, and absenteeism were among the common professional misconduct acts in secondary schools in Nzega District. Findings also revealed that, poor remuneration, failure to fulfill teachers’ needs, and lack of motivation were among the sources of teacher’s explanations for misconduct. Based on the findings, the government through the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVC) should respond to teachers’ needs in a timely manner, and conduct regular seminars on teacher professionalism. Moreover, a similar study should be conducted to assess teachers’ misconduct at primary school and higher institution levels.

Keywords: Tanzania Secondary Education, professional teacher misconduct, public secondary school


Teachers play a vital role towards achieving quality education. They are responsible in transforming the predetermined educational goals and objectives into practical terms. Teachers are role models as well as educators in the classrooms and even outside the classroom (Green, 2010). In other words, teacher’s actions, beliefs, sense of humor, self-discipline, and bearing are all lessons that are presented to students throughout the education experience (Ebert & Culyer, 2012). In the school settings and even at the society level, teachers are highly trusted and considered to be role models in school and in the community. Teachers, therefore, are the key element to ensure that learners are supplied with relevant skills, knowledge, values, and attitudes. Therefore, achievement of quality education abides within their maintaining the ethical standards of the teaching profession.

Despite all the values, qualities and importance given to teachers, still professional misconduct among teachers is an alarming problem all over the world (Anangisye & Barrett, 2005; Prinsloo, 2006; Education International, 2007; William & Lebrun, 2009). For example, Williams and Lebrun (2009) report that in New York state the number of professional misconduct accusations against educators between 2001 to 2005 increased to about 134 cases involving teachers and other school employee into sexual acts and other improper relationship.

In Africa, a report on a survey conducted by Education International (2007) indicated a severe problem with teacher absenteeism. Similarly, a study by Prinsloo (2006) indicated that sexual abuse is quite rampant among male teachers who abuse young female learners in schools. Another study by Ng’oma and Simatwa (2013) indicated that in Kenya particularly in Nyando District, frequent cases of misconduct such as teacher absenteeism, lateness, financial mismanagement, and “carnal knowledge” are the great problems. In Kenya, each year about 1,400 teachers faced disciplinary actions (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013).

In Tanzania, there was evidence of widespread professional misconduct among teachers in almost all institutions of education from primary schools to higher learning institutions (Anangisye & Barrett, 2005). A study by Batweli (2013) revealed the professional misconduct of teachers in Sumbawanga Municipality and rural districts that included absenteeism, drunkenness, sexual abuse, examination fraud, abusive language, drug abuse, and unethical dressing. Similar observations were also made in a study by Anangisye and Barrett (2005). Batweli (2013) indicated that between 200 to 300 teachers in Tanzania were dismissed each year on grounds of professional misconduct.

During training at colleges, student teachers are oriented to several disposition standards related to professionalism to which they are to adhere when dealing with students and other clients. In addition, every school or college has a written professional code of ethics and conduct guide for teachers in their daily fulfillment of duties as professionals (Mabagala, 2013).

Despite various orientations and training based on professionalism offered to teachers as trainees in Teachers Colleges, presence of code of ethics and conduct for teachers, and the measures taken by Teachers Services Department (TSD) against teacher’s professional misconduct; the problem of teacher professional misconduct continues in schools. Professional misconduct has serious negative implications for students’ achievement, the status of the teaching profession, the culture of the society, and may deny students’ basic rights to education (Anangisye & Barrett, 2005). Teachers are trusted and given the responsibility of not only teaching students in the classroom, but also shaping appropriate student behavior. This cannot be achieved if teachers themselves behave unethically towards their profession.

According to Mosha (2006), the quality of education is largely dependent on the quality of teaching and teachers’ efforts. In other words, lack of adherence to professional code of conduct among teachers threatens the achievements of quality education. In Tanzania, there are very few studies that address professional misconduct of teachers in Nzega District. Therefore, this study investigated the prevalence of professional misconduct among Nzega District public secondary school teachers.

Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study were twofold:

  1. To identify the common types of professional misconduct practiced by teachers of public secondary schools.
  2. To identify the explanation(s) or cause(s) cited for professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers.

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework for this study assumed that several factors, such as school leadership, work environment, lack of motivation, and teacher’s attitudes towards the teaching profession may influence professional misconduct of teachers, including but not limited to acts of absenteeism, sexual abuse, tardiness, alcoholism, dishonesty, and lack of accountability. For example, without better salaries teachers may lack motivation that could result in decreased accountability in their duties, absenteeism, lateness, and dishonesty among teachers. But, if there are interventions strategies, such as effective administrative support to enhance teacher’s motivation and proper management of schools, these may lead to effective teaching and learning.  With better informed teachers, they may demonstrate increased professionalism that leads to a positive school climate where quality education is achieved in secondary schools. In addition, if the mentioned interventions are to be considered then respect and dignity of the teaching profession is likely to be attained.

Conceptual Framework Design

Figure 1.1. Conceptual Framework Design, Showing Sources of Teachers Professional Misconduct

This conceptual framework helped to establish the concepts or variables and their relationships addressed in this study.  This conceptual framework helped the researcher explore the prevalence and sources of teachers’ professional misconduct. This conceptual framework helped the researcher to specify and explain the relationship existing between the key concepts of this study.


Research Design

This study utilized a descriptive survey design to obtain a snapshot on the prevalence of professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers. In addition, descriptive survey helped the researcher to investigate the problem of teachers’ professional misconduct in a field setting, enabled the collection of large amounts of data with relative ease from a range of participants, and allowed the researcher to examine many variables.

Target Population

The target population for this study comprised teachers from all selected public secondary schools found in Nzega District in both rural and urban areas. The target population included students, head of schools, and officials of TSD in Nzega District. Per the District Statistical and Logistic Officer for secondary schools of Nzega District (personal communication, December, 2013), Nzega District has a total of 39 public secondary schools with 4,221 public secondary students and 340 public secondary school teachers. The officials from TSD were selected to participate in this study because of their administrative responsibilities to teachers including monitoring discipline. The heads of schools were selected because at the school level, they are expected to ensure that the teachers work according to the standards of the teaching profession.  Students were selected because they are the potential victims of teacher professional misconduct. Teachers were selected because of their actions and professional responsibilities in their teaching careers.

Sample and Sampling Technique

The sample size of students was determined by using Yamane’s (1967) formulae, n=N/1+N (e), where ‘n’ is the sample size, N is the target population, and “e” is the percentage error (Bhujel, 2008). By using Yamane’s formula, a sample size of 403 respondents was obtained. In which 366 were students, 30 were teachers, 6 were head of schools, and 1 was TSD officer. These respondent groups were useful to the study as they provided relevant and sufficient information on the prevalence of professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers.

Both simple random and purposive sampling techniques were used to obtain the sample. Schools, teachers, and students were selected by using simple random sampling. District Chief Teachers Services Department Officer and Heads of schools were purposively sampled because of their administrative and managerial functions.

Instruments for Data Collection

The study used a close-ended questionnaire and semi-structured interview guide for collecting data. The researchers developed the study questionnaire based on a literature review regarding professional misconduct and best practices. Close-ended questionnaire items required respondents to identify the prevailing common professional misconduct on a 5 point Likert scale ranging from High Prevalence (5), Prevalent (4), Neutral (3), Low Prevalence (2), and No Prevalence (1). The questionnaire also required respondents to identify the sources or causes of professional misconduct among secondary school teachers on a 5 points Likert scale ranging from Strongly Agree (5), Agree (4), Neutral (3), Disagree (2), and Strongly Disagree (1).  A semi-structured interview was used in this study to obtain information from the Teacher Service Department official on the prevalence of professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers.

Validity and Reliability of Instrument

To ensure validity and reliability the instruments for this study were reviewed prior to their implementation to validate that the instrument met the study objectives. There was peer and panel review of the instruments and their evaluations were considered in finalizing the questionnaire. The questionnaire was piloted in two schools; one located in a rural area and the other located in an urban area. Piloting of the study involved two head of schools, four teachers, and six students. Consecutively the questionnaires for this study were tested between two periods of time and for each time Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of 0.7 were obtained. According to Cohen, Manion & Morrison (2007) reliability level of an instrument is acceptable if it ranges from 0.67 and above. Therefore, the instruments used in this study were reliable. For an interview instrument, reliability and validity depended on transparency, communicability, and coherence of data analysis and interpretation (Ndibalema, 2013).

Data Analysis and Presentation

Data were mainly analyzed using a quantitative approach. Qualitative data analysis was also completed to augment the primary findings. Quantitative data from the questionnaire were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Statistics version 20. Data from the collected questionnaires were coded and entered into the SPSS program for analysis. Data were analyzed descriptively by calculating percentages, mean, and standard deviations for easy interpretation of the information. The qualitative interview data was analyzed using content analysis.


Common Prevailing Teachers’ Professional Misconduct

Respondents of this study were asked to identify common professional misconduct types committed by public secondary school teachers. A list of fifteen items on teacher professional misconduct were provided in the questionnaire and respondents were instructed to identify common, prevalent professional misconduct types using a 5 point Likert scale ranging from ‘High Prevalence (5), Prevalent (4), Neutral (3), Low Prevalence (2), and No Prevalence (1). The highest score on the Likert scale indicated prevalence of misconduct, while the lowest score on Likert scale indicated lack of prevalence of professional misconduct. The results were presented in Table 1.1 below.

Table 1.1 Descriptive Statistics on the Common Prevailing Teacher’s Professional Misconduct

Items: Common professional misconduct Students Teachers Head of Schools  Totals
Drunkenness 3.51 .99 3.00 .91 3.33 .82 3.28 .91
Absenteeism 4.13 .83 4.03 .49 4.17 .41 4.11 .58
Use of abusive language 4.07 .99 2.13 1.11 1.83 .98 2.68 1.03
Examination malpractices 1.40   .96 1.00   .00 1.00 .00 1.13 .32
Drug abuse 1.19   .65 1.00   .00 1.00 .00 1.06 .22
Unethical dressing 4.01   .73 1.43   .57 1.33 .51 2.26 .60
Negligence of duty 4.19   .84 4.23   .63 4.17 .41 4.19 .63
Financial Mismanagement 4.25   .80 4.03   .62 4.33 .52 4.20 .65
Sexual harassment 4.12   .96 2.00 1.23 2.67 1.03 2.93 1.07
Lateness to school 4.05 1.07 4.10   .55 4.17 .41 4.11   .68
Corporal punishment 4.13 1.33 1.10   .54 1.17 .40 2.13   .76
Insubordination 3.31 1.13 1.63   .92  4.17 .41  3.04   .82
Corruption 1.17   .55 1.43   .81 1.00 .00 1.20   .45
Teaching without   preparation 1.49   .94 1.46   .77 1.50 .83  1.48   .85
Theft and forgery 1.19   .65 1.00   .00 1.00   .00 1.06  .22
  Total  3.08       .89      2.24     .61     2.46     .45         2.59          .65

From Table 1.1, general findings revealed that teacher professional misconduct was at a low prevalence (M = 2.59, SD = .65). Professional misconduct types respondents of this study identified included financial mismanagement (M = 4.20, SD = .65), negligence of duty (M = 4.19, SD = .63), absenteeism (M = 4.11, SD = .99), and lateness to school (M= 4.11, SD = .68) as a common prevailing professional misconduct by public secondary school teachers both in rural and urban areas. Additionally, sexual harassment (M = 2.93, SD = 1.07), use of abusive language (M = 2.68, SD = 1.03), unethical dressing (M = 2.65, SD = .81), and corporal punishment (M = 2.13, SD = .76) were identified by the respondents at low prevalence. Table 1.1 also indicated that public secondary school teachers were not involved in professional misconduct related to teaching without preparation (M = 1.48, SD = .85), examination malpractices (M = 1.13, SD = .32), corruption (M =1.20, SD = .45), drug abuse (M = 1.06, SD = .22), theft of school property and forgery (M = 1.06, SD = .22). Most respondents were neutral in their identification regarding the prevalence of drunkenness (M = 3.27, SD = .99) and insubordination (M = 3.04, SD = .82) as professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers.

Findings from heads of school were at M = 4.33, SD = .52, with student ratings at M = 4.25, SD = .80, and teacher ratings at M = 4.03, SD = .62 in identified financial mismanagement as a common professional misconduct prevalence among public secondary school teachers. This indicated that public secondary school teachers did not properly manage school finances. During the interview with the TSD official, it was revealed that cases involving teacher financial mismanagement were prevalent in different forms, such as misuse of money collected for student fees, and misuse of money allocated by the school authority to various department for sports and games. The interview with the TSD official also revealed that one teacher in school X was taken to the court because of mismanagement of school funds. This study paralleled with the study by Ng’oma and Simatwa (2013) who found that financial mismanagement was a serious problem among teachers of primary schools in Nyando District in Kenya.

From the findings respondents revealed that negligence of duty was among the professional misconduct committed most often by public secondary school teachers. Teachers reported it at M = 4.23, SD = .63, students reported it at M = 4.19, SD = .84 and heads of school at M = 4.17, SD = .41. This indicated that teachers did not consistently perform the duties assigned to them effectively. Negligence of duty impacted negatively on teachers’ curriculum delivery in that set targets were not consistently met (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). In other words, the instructional objectives were not achieved and hence there was poor quality delivery of education.

Head of schools identified absenteeism misconduct overall at M = 4.17, SD = .41, with students rating it a M = 4.13, SD = .83 and teachers rating it at M = 4.03, SD = .49 as a common professional misconduct that was prevalent among public secondary school teachers in their areas. Similar observation was made in an interview with TSD official; it was revealed that 24 cases on absenteeism involving secondary school teachers were reported between the years 2012-2013 to the TSD office. This implied that the time scheduled for teachers to implement the curriculum was not appropriately met as most of the time teachers were not at school. These findings concur with the study by Betweli (2013) who found that absenteeism was prevalent among public primary school teachers in Sumbawanga Municipal and Rural Districts in Rukwa Region whereby teachers spent few work hours at school and used the rest of their time in private issues. It is likely that students may go to school and all too often find some of their teachers absent (Kueckeny & Valfortz, 2012). The instructional objectives will not be successfully achieved when there are severe rates of teacher absenteeism. Betweli (2013) observed that teacher absenteeism may lead to failure to complete curriculum implementation and poor academic performance among students. Teacher absenteeism may also be evident by poor performance in national examination results.

Lateness to school was another misconduct as reported by heads of schools at M = 4.17, SD = .41, teachers reported it at M = 4.10, SD = .55, and students rated it at M = 4.05, SD = 1.07 to be prevalent among public secondary school teachers. This implies that public secondary school teachers did not report on time to their working station. This study concurs with the observation made by Ng’oma and Simatwa (2013) that teacher tardiness to school, the morning lessons were not fully taught. It is clear that once teachers report late to school, the school time table was likely to be disturbed. For example, the cleanness of school environment by students would not be effective in absence of teacher supervision.

Furthermore, findings from respondents indicated that sexual harassment of students by their teachers was a low prevalence at M = 2.93, SD = 1.07. However, responses from students indicated it significantly higher at M = 4.12, SD = .96 on sexual harassment as common professional misconduct that prevailed among public secondary school teachers compared to responses from heads of schools rating at M = 2.67, SD = 1.03, with teachers rating it even lower M = 2.00, SD = 1.23. These differences are likely due to the reason the fact students were most often the victim of such misconduct committed by teachers. Responses from students at M = 4.12, SD = .96 indicated that students were sexually harassed by their teachers in public secondary schools. Manos (2004) summarized that engaging into sexual relations with students may change the relationship between teachers and students. Sometimes, due to sexual harassment received from teachers, students may feel like or even stop going to school.

Sexual harassment disturbs students psychologically to the extent of losing concentration on studies, and interferes with their future dreams. Many students have had their future dreams shattered due to pregnancies attributed to their teachers (Ng’oma and Simatwa, 2013). On the other side, responses from heads of schools at M = 2.67, SD = 1.03 and teachers at M = 2.00, SD = 1.23 indicated low prevalence of sexual harassment of students by teachers in their schools. For the heads of schools such a response implied that probably few students reported to the heads of schools about their teachers’ abuses, so the majority remained silent. For teachers, such response implied that possibly they knew some teachers in their schools have sexual relations with students but did not want to reveal misconduct of their fellow teachers. This could also imply that teachers who were involved in the study were part of the perpetrator group.

In addition, students identified the use of abusive language at M = 4.07, SD = .99 prevalence among teachers when communicating with students. However, teachers rated this at M = 2.13, SD = 1.11. Unlike the heads of schools, who rated at an even lower prevalence rating of M = 1.83, SD = .98, so they viewed the problem as not prevalent at all. Possibly abusive language cases of such nature were not reported to their offices. In their study Anangisye and Barrett (2005) provided an example of a teacher who consistently insulted his students by calling them goats. Such examples signified that the use of abusive language among teachers to their students was prevalent. Teachers use of abusive language when communicating to students humiliated and embarrassed students. Generally abusive behavior within education institutions can have far reaching consequences for the individuals affected and to the wider society (Anangisye and Barrett, 2005). It is from these educational institutions we expect to get members of the society who are educated, but this is difficult to achieve this if students are abused both verbally and physically by their teachers.

Looking at the data in Table 1.1 above, responses from the heads of schools at M = 4.17, .41 indicated that insubordination as professional misconduct was prevalent in their schools. This shows that teachers in public secondary schools failed to obey the authority. During an interview with TSD official, it was revealed that there was a case reported to TSD office that involved a teacher from school X who showed disobedience by insulting the head of school in front of other teachers. With respect to other forms of misconduct committed by teachers as identified in this study by respondents such as negligence of duty, late reporting to school, and absenteeism, probably were the reasons that made the heads of schools to reach into a decision that majority of teachers in their schools disobeyed the authority. Insubordination is a serious offense as it interferes with delivery of services by teachers (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). It is hard for the school authority to achieve the predetermined educational goals and objectives without consistent support from teachers.

Findings also revealed that unethical [unprofessional] dress among secondary school teachers was prevalent. This was identified by students at M = 4.01, SD = .73. That means the way teachers were dressed was viewed as inappropriate by students. This provided an indication that teachers were not dressed in accordance to the standards of the teaching profession. Teachers are expected to dress in a manner that is appropriate to their status. In other words, dressing slovenly is inappropriate to a teacher’s role as an exemplar to students and community members (Anangisye & Barrett, 2005). However, the heads of schools rated it at M =1.33, SD = .51 and teachers rated it at M = 1.43, SD = .57, reflecting that they assessed the frequency of unethical dress among teachers as not prevalent. That meant dress codes for teachers were adhered to in the schools.  These contrasting views among students, heads of schools, and teachers on teachers dress perhaps showed that either students or teachers and heads of schools lacked knowledge or agreement on what constituted ethical dress.

Moreover, responses from students at M = 4.13, SD = 1.33 uncovered that misuse of corporal punishment was prevalent as a common professional misconduct committed by secondary school teachers. Corporal punishment is commonly administered unofficially in Tanzania (Anangisye & Barrett, 2005). In Tanzania, officially only the head of school or a teacher selected by the head of school has a mandate to provide corporal punishment, but there should be records for its use and caning should be not more than four strokes at a time even for serious offences (Ibid). However, the survey result from students implied that corporal punishment was a problem in their schools. It was obvious that most teachers preferred to cane students as it was believed to achieve immediate results in instilling discipline in students. Corporal punishment has serious potential consequences as it may lead to loss of life or permanent injury or create stress in learners (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). Some students may even drop their studies if severe corporal punishment persists in schools.

Sources of Teacher Professional Misconduct

The objective of the study was to identify the sources of teachers’ professional misconduct. Respondents were asked to identify the sources or causes which they thought could be the reasons for teachers to act contrary to the standards of the teaching profession in their areas. In order to gather information on teacher’s sources of misconduct, questionnaires were administered to teachers, heads of schools, and student respondents. All questionnaires were successfully completed. A list of nineteen items on sources of teacher professional misconduct were provided in a questionnaire in which respondents were required to rate the sources of professional misconduct using a five point Likert scale ranging from Strongly Agree (5), Agree (4), Neutral (3), Disagree (2), and Strongly Disagree (1). The higher the score on the Likert scale the stronger or more closely identified it was as a source or cause of misconduct, while low score indicated a weak identification of it as a source or cause of misconduct. Also, an interview was conducted with a TSD official. The results are presented in Table 1.2 below.

Table 2: Descriptive Statistics on the Sources of Teacher’s Professional Misconduct

Items: Sources of Teacher’s Professional Misconducts   Students   Teachers Head  teachers   Total
M  SD  M  SD  M  SD  M  SD
Long distance from home to school 4.03 .66 4.53 .68 4.50 .55 4.35 .63
Low level of professional knowledge 2.30 1.25 2.00 1.26 2.00 1.09 2.10 1.20
Lack of frequent visits by educational officers 4.31  .83 4.23 .77 4.17 .41 4.23 .67
Failure to fulfill teacher needs 4.22 .83 4.80 .41 4.50 1.22 4.51 .82
Lack of motivation to teachers 3.98 .98 4.73 .45 4.50 .55 4.40 .66
Poor school leadership 4.30 .55 4.47 .73 1.67 .52 3.48 .60
Stress due to poor working environment 2.31 1.31 2.23 1.25 3.67 1.75 2.74 .48
Working for a long time in the same school 2.09 1.17 3.90 1.39 3.00 1.67 2.99 1.41
Inadequate salaries 4.19 .96 4.70 .47 4.67 .55 4.52 .66
Poor living environment 3.47 1.31 2.50 1.11 1.50 .55 2.48 .99
Shifting classes (double session) 1.58 .49 1.70 .47 1.50 .55 1.59 .50
Overloaded subjects/periods 1.73 .69 2.27 .91 1.67 .52 1.89 .71
Poor training received 2.00 .74 1.60 .49 1.00 .00 1.53 .41
Lack of sense of commitment 4.06 .68 4.10 .89 4.00 .00 4.05 .52
Failure to identify their status 2.30 1.25 2.00 1.26 2.00 1.09 2.10 1.20
Lack of teacher personal discipline 4.01 1.11 4.50 .82 4.17 1.17 4.23 1.03
Poor attitude towards work 2.42 1.09 4.10 .31 4.83 .41 3.78 .60
Ignorance of code of ethics and conduct 2.10 .83 3.80 .55 3.83 .98 3.24 .79
Family problems 2.30 1.25 1.97 1.25 1.50 .55 1.92 1.02

From Table 1.2, respondents of this study rated inadequate salaries at M = 4.52, SD = .66,  failure to fulfill teacher needs at M = 4.51, .82, lack of motivation to teachers at M = 4.40, SD = .66, long distance from home to school at M = 4.35, SD = .63, lack of teacher personal discipline at M = 4.23, SD = 1.03, lack of frequent visits by educational officer at M = 4.23, SD = .67, lack of sense of commitment at M = 4.05, SD = .52 as the serious sources of teachers’ misconduct. Additionally, teacher’s poor attitude towards work was rated at M = 3.78, SD = .60, poor school leadership at M = 3.48, SD = .60, and teacher’s ignorance of code of ethics and conduct at M = 3.24, SD = .79 as additional sources of teacher professional misconduct. A review of the data in Table1.2, resulted in the following observation that inadequate salaries for teachers were identified as one of the top sources or causes of professional misconduct among secondary school teachers. Students identified this at M = 4.19, SD = .96, teachers at M = 4.70, SD = .47, and heads of schools at M = 4.67, SD = .55.

During the interview with TSD official, it was revealed that teachers inadequate pay forced them to engage in private endeavors to supplement their income. This could lead to absenteeism. This meant that the monthly salaries paid to teachers are very low compared to their daily living costs.  Inadequate salary can influence absenteeism among teachers as they are forced to use official hours to engage into self-initiative activities such as petty business to supplement their income (Ndibalema, 2013). This study is in line with Betweli (2013) who asserted that, low salaries are prime causes of dissatisfaction amongst most teachers which consequently, results in teachers’ violations of code of professional conduct.

Second, respondents observed that failure to fulfill teachers’ needs influenced teacher’s involvement into professional misconduct; this was supported by all respondents; students at M = 4.22, SD = .83, teachers at M = 4.80, SD = .41, and heads of schools at M = 4.50, SD = 1.22. This indicated that teacher work-related needs were not resolved in a timely manner by the officials responsible, consequently this resulted in teacher’s misconduct, such as absenteeism, negligence of duty, and lateness. The failure of official’s responsible and timely response negatively impacted teacher morale and job commitment. This was true in connection to such teacher requests, such as promotion, transfer allowance, salary arrears, and other benefits not being addressed in a timely manner (Betweli, 2013). It is obvious that teachers could not work effectively if at all their needs are not taken into consideration by responsible officials. In such situations, it is likely to find teachers misbehaving in their profession leading to poor implementation of curriculum.

Third, findings revealed that lack of motivation influenced teachers to indulge in professional misconducts.  This was indicated by responses from teachers, who rated this source at M = 4.73, SD = .45 and heads of schools rated it at M = 4.50, SD = .55. Such responses indicated that teachers were not motivated and therefore even their commitment to carrying out various school responsibilities were low. This study is in line with Kueckeny and Valfortz (2012) who noted that, lateness and laziness among teachers in schools were influenced with low level of teacher’s motivation connected to lack of adequate salaries and housing. A survey report conducted by Education International (2007) in six Anglophone Sub-Saharan African countries revealed that attrition among teachers was related to low levels of motivation. Low levels of motivation may influence teachers to leave the teaching profession and look for other jobs that may lead to shortage of teachers in schools. Once the morale of teachers become low it is possible for them to indulge into professional misconducts such as neglecting duties, disobeying authorities, and/or absenteeism, and lateness. This may pose a threat to student learning.

Fourth, data in Table 1.2 indicate that long distances between home and school was another source or cause for teachers to engage in professional misconduct such as lateness. Students rated this source at M = 4.03, SD = .66, teachers rated it at M = 4.53, SD = .68, and heads of schools at M = 4.50, SD = .55. Similar observations were made in an interview with TSD official who revealed that shortages of school houses led teachers to report late to school. It was further revealed that even most teachers teaching in rural areas resided in town. This indicated that residing far from the school compound contributed to teacher lateness. For teachers who are teaching in rural areas, this study would concur with Betweli (2013) who asserted that residing far from school compounds attributed to either lack of quality houses for teachers or lack of social services around the school. Therefore, lateness among teachers was attributed to long distances from home to school, a situation which resulted in the morning lesson not effectively taught.

Fifth, respondents of this study, lack of teachers’ personal discipline as a source of professional misconduct was rated by teachers at M = 4.50, SD = .82, heads of schools rated it at M = 4.17, SD = 1.17, and students at M = 4.01, SD = 1.11. These ratings indicated a lack of teacher’s personal discipline as a source for teachers to act contrary to the teacher professional standards. This means that teacher’s professional misconduct was a result of personal behavioral attributes. Teacher’s personal discipline plays a great role in various forms of professional misconduct, such as absenteeism, sexual abuse, and financial mismanagement (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). That means well-disciplined teachers take their work seriously and rarely absent themselves from duty, neither engage in sexual relations with students nor mismanage the school funds. At school well-disciplined teachers are considered as second parents (Anangisye & Barrett, 2005). However, some teachers who lack self-discipline take opportunities to engage in misconduct, like abusing students verbally and physically. Therefore, lack of personal discipline among teachers, as it was rated by respondents of this study, had a negative impact on student achievement.

Sixth, the findings of this study also revealed that lack of frequent visits by educational officials in schools was another source or cause of professional misconduct as reported by students at M = 4.31, SD = .83, teachers at M = 4.23, SD = .77, and heads of schools at M = 4.17, SD = .41. Such responses indicated that educational officials were not frequently visiting schools to inspect or monitor school progress. This situation provided opportunities for teachers to misbehave knowing that educational officials or school inspectors were not watching them. This study concurs with Betweli (2013) who observed that increase in misconduct among teachers is influenced by lack of frequent visits to schools by education officers, particularly school inspectors. In an interview with TSD official, it was revealed that shortage of education funds hindered frequent visits by educational officers to schools to assess school upkeep and adherence to official policies. Hence teachers engaged in professional misconduct, such as absenteeism, lateness, and/or negligence of duties. Such observations by the TSD official provided an indication that possibly heads of schools do not regularly report various forms of misconduct to the educational offices, but rather wait until educational officials conduct school visits to identify such misconducts.

Seventh, poor school leadership as another source of misconduct was agreed upon by teachers at M = 4.47, SD = .73 and students at M = 4.30, SD = .55. Respondents of this study believed that poor school leadership of some heads of schools influenced teachers to display character contrary to the teaching profession, such as lateness, absenteeism, negligence of duty, insubordination, and sexual harassment. Poor school leadership and supervision led to misconduct among teachers (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). Students may have reported poor leadership perhaps because of lack of effective measures against teachers who misbehaved. For teachers, such observation might be due to failure of heads of schools to present their claims to educational officials. In the interview with the TSD official, it was observed that there was an incidence where the head of school X refused to sign a release letter from a teacher who asked for chance to go for further studies. Hence the teacher neglected duties and reported late to school. This provided a picture that leadership style and supervision influenced the teacher’s professional misconduct.

Eighth, it was further observed by respondents that lack of commitment among teachers also a source of their misbehavior in schools. Respondents of this study agreed with this as a source with teachers’ agreement at M = 4.10, SD = .89, students at M = 4.06, SD = .68, and heads of schools at M = 4.00, SD = .00. They believed that some misconduct committed by teachers, such as absenteeism, lateness, and insubordination were due to a lack of commitment among teachers.  Mabagala (2013) observed that commitment to student learning is the key determinant of teacher professionalism. This means that if commitment among teachers is lacking, then student learning achievement will be at risk as there is a likely increase in teacher professional misconduct. For example, a teacher who always reported late to school may lead students to lose their morning lessons. A teacher should be committed to his or her duty fully and consider it as a calling. Teaching is a fulltime profession that requires total commitment and dedication on the part of the teacher (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). Therefore, increased teacher misconduct may be a result of lack of sense of commitment among teachers.

Ninth, another source of misconduct as agreed upon by teachers at M = 4.10, SD = .31 and heads of schools at M = 4.83, SD = .41 was teacher’s poor attitudes toward work. Possibly poor attitudes toward work by teachers was linked to inadequate salaries paid to teachers, lack of motivation, failure to fulfill teacher’s need timely, and poor school leadership. This poor attitude could lead to professional misconduct, such as negligence of duty, insubordination, lateness, and absenteeism. A poor attitude to an activity is exhibited in the way one does his or her work (Ng’oma & Simatwa, 2013). Therefore, the way teachers acted in their working station were viewed by respondents due to a poor attitude towards work that led teachers to act contrary to the standards of the teaching profession.

Tenth, findings of this study also revealed that ignorance of the code of ethics and conduct was another source of professional misconduct as agreed upon by head of schools at M = 3.83, SD = .98 and teachers at M = 3.80, SD = .55. This implied that most teachers indulged in professional misconduct perhaps due to a lack of clear information on what the code of ethics and conduct for the teaching profession entailed. This can further be interpreted that possibly the document for the code of ethics and conduct in some schools was not available or it was available, but heads of schools did not take time to remind teachers about the code of ethics and conduct. This study concurs with Ng’oma and Simatwa (2013) who noted that teachers engaged into professional misconduct because they lacked information on what code of ethics and conduct stated regarding teacher performance.

Conclusions and Recommendations

There is low prevalence of professional misconduct among public secondary school teachers in both rural and urban areas of Nzega District. However, some misconduct such as financial mismanagement, absenteeism, negligence of duty, and lateness were noted to be prevalent in some secondary schools. The causes of misconduct in secondary schools were a result of poor remuneration, failure to fulfill teacher needs, and lack of frequent visits by education officials. Based on these findings, it is recommended that there is a need for the government through its Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to have effective monitoring of teachers’ conduct. At the school level, school administrators should regularly conduct seminars to teachers or at staff meetings, whereby such opportunity is used to remind teachers of their roles and responsibility to students. Also, they should regularly review the importance of adhering to the codes of ethics and conduct. Since this study was limited to public secondary schools, a similar study should be conducted in private secondary schools and in other levels of education such as primary school and higher learning institutions.


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