Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Nature of Teacher Professional Misconduct in Tanzanian Public Primary Schools: The Case of Sumbawanga Municipal and Rural Districts

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

The Nature of Teacher Professional Misconduct in Tanzanian Public Primary Schools: The Case of Sumbawanga Municipal and Rural Districts

Article excerpt


This paper investigates the nature of teacher professional misconduct in Tanzanian public primary schools. It involves views and/or experience from different groups of stakeholders in education in Rukwa Region, more specifically in Sumbawanga Municipal and Rural Districts. The paper employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches which were informed by a case study design. Data relevant to this paper were collected through interviews, questionnaires, document analysis, and observation checklists. The paper reveals that, first; teacher professional misconduct was prevalent in both rural and urban settings in Rukwa Region with some variation in terms of type, cause, and frequency. Secondly, the variation of teacher misconduct in schools was greatly influenced by teacher's sex, work experience, and level of education. In view of the research findings recounted, the paper concludes that teacher misconduct is a problem of great concern in both rural and urban schools that affects teachers' work performance, the teaching, and learning process, and the quality of education at large.

Keywords: teacher; professional misconduct; public primary schools; Tanzania; Sumbawanga

1. Introduction

Teachers play a vital role in the attainment of goals in education in any nation. They are responsible for high standards in education, transmission of national values and norms to their pupils by teaching them and/or being good models. Teachers are the transmitters of knowledge who ensure that children learn, they are role models to students, and in most rural communities, they are the most educated and respected personages (Patrinos & Kagia, 2008). They are at the front line of developing pupils' understanding, skills, learning and core values. Teachers are, therefore, the most important elements in producing quality education, thus, they are expected to abide by the professional code of ethics.

However, in spite of such values and importance attached to teachers and the teaching profession, there are professional misconduct and lack of integrity amongst teachers that appear to be incompatible with the goals towards the attainment of quality education. Teacher misconduct disturbs the implementation of the planned interventions, particularly the correct functioning of the teaching and learning process (van Nuland & Khandelwal, 2006). Literature shows that a large number of teachers and other educational administrators have been engaging in various unethical practices across the world.

In North America, U.S.A in particular, some incidences of educators' sexual misconduct such as sexual touching, request for sexual favour and unwelcome sexual advance have been revealed by students in various parts of the country (Shakeshaft, 2004). Similarly, European countries experience several problems related to teacher unethical practices. In Germany for example, some teachers are involved in selling examination questions and marks, selling front-row seats to students in large classes and forcing students to buy certain materials or additional materials to take private lessons (Chapman, 2002). In Asian countries, China and Bangladesh in particular, the rate of teacher misconduct has been increasing tremendously. Teachers are reported to engage in selling examination papers or allowing someone else to take the examination for a certain candidate (Transparency International, 2007; Bray, 2003; Bray, 1999).

In Africa, the Sub-Saharan countries experience more problems of professional misconduct among teachers and other educational administrators. Teacher misconduct and unprofessionalism, together with corruption among education administrators threatens to undermine the current initiatives to improve educational quality in many low-income countries, including most of Sub-Saharan Africa (Anangisye & Barrett, 2006).

In Tanzania, the incidents of teacher misconduct can be traced through various studies which were previously done in the country. …

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