Competence in Schools in Tanzania. Influence of the Competence of the Principal on the Students' Academic Performance in Secondary Schools

Academic Paper, 2020

24 Pages





1. Introduction
1.1 Main Objectives
1.2 Specific Objectives

2. Methodology
2.1 Qualitative Analysis
2.2 Quantitative data analysis

3. Findings and Discussion

4. Conclusion

5. Tables and Figures

6. Disclosure of Conflict of Interest

7. Acknowledgement

8. References


This study assessed the influence of the competence attribute of the educational leaders on the student academic performance in the secondary schools. Explanatory cross-sectional survey design with a concurrent mixed approach using quantitative and qualitative data were employed. A total of 202 teachers used to provide evidence on heads of schools competence in influencing students’ academic performance using questionnaires, in-depth interview and focus group discussion. The collected data were analyzed using SPSS version 23 for quantitative data, and thematic analysis for qualitative data. Significant relationship between competence and students’ academic performance was revealed. The study concluded that competence attribute significantly influence positively the students’ academic performance Therefore, the study recommends the government to allocate enough funds for professional development for the aspirant of head of schools and review educational policy on the training and development of teachers before and after appointment into headship post.

KEY WORDS: competence, leadership, Academic performance.


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1. Introduction

The context of quality of education provided in secondary schools worldwide in the 21st century depends much on the competence of teachers in their schools. The educational stakeholders are enforced with not only quality of school buildings, facilities, school environment and other services provided in the school, but the quality of knowledge and skills obtained by students. And there is no miracle to gain knowledge based competence without professional competence of teachers. Elvira et al (2017) argue that in an increasingly competitive environment to provide better education. Education institutions should focus on improving the students’ academic performance. This performance embodied in student grade which then support the graduated student who search for jobs. Besides improving the mental attitude, educational institutions should also improve cognitive abilities. One of the important factors which can contribute in improving cognitive abilities is teacher professional competencies. Teacher should have a wide and deep knowledge regarding the course or subject they teach. They also possess practical experiences so that their lesson becomes more attractive and understood by students.

The quality of an educational institutions or secondary school can be seen from the quality of graduates it produces. One of the key indicators which show the quality of education is the grade point average (GPA). The cumulative GPA is the result of the overall study of the student over certain time. One important aspect which can affect student academic performance is the teacher. Teachers regarded as the most imperative school based factor that influences student’s achievement level (Muzenda, 2013). They can help to change the student attitude and help them to accomplish better performance. In order to do so teacher must have suitable competencies. Ganyaupfu(2013) also mention that teacher competence has significant influence on the student performance. According to Akiri (2009) teacher competence in learning process will drive and help the student to achieve better performance. Sultan and Shafi(2014) supports the ideas regarding the relations of teacher competence and academic performance. On the other hand Yoon et al (2007) , found that teacher who receive substantial professional development can boost their student achievement.

Elvira et al (2017) state competence as a range of knowledge and behavior which must be possessed by teacher or lecturer in order to do their duties. Teacher competence includes their knowledge, skills, and behavior which help or enhance the capabilities of teacher to educate, teach, guide, direct, train and evaluate the student. Ones’ competence should include communication skills, ability to learn, conduct social interaction, problem solving skills, working with ICT or other support tools (Zeravikova et al 2015). It is evident that professional competencies are closely related to the performance of a job. Competence presupposes the personal competency of teacher and the knowledge and skills which become necessary as a result the job (Liakopoulou, 2011).

Amuche and Saleh (2013) found that in North Central Geo-political zone of Nigeria and secondary school principals were not professionally competent to carry out school administration and planning duties. Akiri (2013) disclosed that in public secondary schools in Delta State, Nigeria, the good academic performance of students was associated with qualified teachers. This also was confirmed by Long et al. (2016) who revealed that performance of students was linked with teachers’ competencies in terms of creativity, knowledge, communication, discipline, and adequate students’ preparation. Mustamin and Yasin (2012) study focused on the competence of school principals based on Ministry of Education Malaysia; Florida Department of Education, and Ministry of National Education Indonesia. Base on the purpose of this study, documentary review was conducted by adapting methods of concept mapping. The study identified that competency is the ability, knowledge, attitudes, and skills of doing the job effectively and efficiently. The study further pointed out that school principals need to have these attribute as are essential for school success. School leaders with competency attribute indirectly impact students academic performance by influencing teachers contentment in teaching activities through motivating them, sharing the vision and mission of the schools. Also, competent school leaders place learners at the centre with a collaborative approach which ensure vision, mindsets, culture, and climate of the school is in favour of both teachers and students in teaching and learning process.

Molefe (2010) conducted a study to develop a generally accepted performance measurement dimension framework for lecturers at universities. The research purpose was to investigate the performance measurement dimensions for lecturers at selected universities in countries South Africa, USA, UK, Australia and Nigeria. Universities were selected on the basis of their academic reputation; being the best in their respective countries or continents. A quantitative research approach was adopted using data collected through a questionnaire. Main findings confirmed that a lecturer’s performance can be measured using seven competency dimensions; subject knowledge, testing (assessment) procedures, student-teacher relations, subject relevance, organisational skills, communication skills, and utility of assignments. Moreover, the dimensions were tested, and attracted a Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient of above 0.70.

A research in South Africa by Muzenda (2013) analysed the effect of lecturers’ competences on students’ academic performance among higher education and training students. A structured questionnaire was used to gather data on 115 students selected using simple random sampling procedure. The scale reliability Cronbach’s alpha of 0.822and the sampling adequacy Keiser-Meyer-Olkin of 0.769; with a total declared variance of 66.519 percent were obtained from the analysis. Four hypotheses were tested using Stepwise regression approach. Results indicate that dimensions of lecturer competence; lecturer teaching skills, subject knowledge, and lecturer attitude and lecturer attendance have a positive significant influence on students' academic performances.

In addition, Goolamally and Ahmad, (2014) in their quantitative study identify and affirm the conceptual framework and attributes of school leaders (principals) needed to achieve leadership sustainability and school excellence in Malaysia, found that head of schools needs five attributes in order to excel in school leadership and make a school excellent: integrity, inspirational, competency, forward-looking and self-efficacy. Thus, competent, which has the sub-attributes of task competency, action-oriented and sociability as well as emotional and spiritual competency, was found to influence school achievement in Malaysia. This study focused on leadership attributes of the head of schools and ignored to assess the influence of attributes to student academic performance.

On the contrary, Prasetio et al. (2017) assessed lecturers’ professional competency and students’ academic performance in Indonesia higher education in an increasingly competitive environment. This study examined the relation between lecturers’ professional competency of lecturer has an impact on students’ academic performances in higher education. The findings show that the professional competency does not have a significantly relation with students’ academic performance. The detail discussion provided with new insights of various factors which might relate to the performance. However, this study assessed the influence of headmasters’ competency on academic performance of secondary school students. Accordingly, the findings from Wamala and Seruwagi (2013) in Uganda suggest that teachers’ competency alone may not directly translate into better students’ academic performance.

In similar view, Abbasi & Mir (2012) conducted a study in Pakistan to assess the influence of teachers’ competency or ability, students’ work ethics and institution environment on students’ academic performance. The results indicated that, independently; teacher abilities, student's work ethics, and institutional environment did not have significant influence on student performance. But, simultaneously these factors; have a strong significant effect on student academic performance. Moreover, Kosgey et al. (2013) and as Bonney et al. (2015) both also support the non-significant result. Studies showed that even if the quality of teachers was high in terms of their academic and professional qualification it did not drive the performance of the students. Thus, there was no significant relation between competence and student performance. Moreover, Lee and Yuan (2013) manifested that the leadership styles of the supervisors significantly have direct effect on effectiveness of the organizations.

Makario (2014) investigated the influence of head teachers’ management of facilities on pupils’ performance in Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in Nairobi County, Kenya. The study employed descriptive survey design. The sample size was 123 selected using a simple random sampling method while for the schools, head teachers, senior teachers and accounts’ clerks, purposive sampling method was utilized. Descriptive statistics and distribution techniques were used to analyze the data. The main findings were: high level of adequacy of the school facilities, competence of head teachers, and documentation of facilities, gender of the head teachers, and very adequate delegation of responsibilities to staff in management of facilities had the best pupils’ performance in KCPE. The study concluded that the tested variables influenced the strategies employed by head teachers to effectively manage school facilities and enhance ’pupils’ performance in KCPE.

Ndyali (2013) attempted to analyse the roles of the head of schools in the achievement of student’s academic performance in community secondary schools in Mbeya Urban. Both quantitative; survey and qualitative; in-depth interview and focused group discussion were conducted. The results of the study revealed that the school heads are surrounded by many challenges which make the school management to be unbearable. Their roles had been hampered by unfriendly working situations in which schools operate under shortage of teachers, facilities, funds and lack of commitment among stakeholders. The study concludes that the students’ poor academic performance in the context of the roles of school heads prevailing in community secondary schools is a result of an educational system that produces predetermined poor results.

Day and Sammons (2014) investigated associations between the principals’ role and performance of primary and secondary schools in England. The study revealed that the the principle has important role of improving the academic performance. Moreover, according to Robinson (2007), studies conducted on the qualitative research on the leadership attributes and the link to student outcomes were found to be only 24 published researches between 1985 to 2006 in Australia. Also, Mulford (2005), conducted a study to determine the contribution of leadership attributes on the student academic performance for five years between 2001 and 2005. The study found only 44 published academic journal articles. Thus, it can be postulated that there is inadequate research on the field of leadership attributes of head of schools and its influence on student academic performance today. Hence those studies show the empirical research gap of lacking of literature in leadership attributes and academic performance. Moreover, based on the review of literature, it was suggested that there was little research on the influence of school leaders’ competency attributes and student’s academic performance. Therefore, this study was imperative as it examined the head of the school's leadership competence attribute on student's academic performance in Tanzania.

1.1 Main Objectives

To assess the influence of competency attributes of Head of schools on the students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools.

1.2 Specific Objectives

1. To assess the influence of work competency of Head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools
2. To assess the influence of emotional competency of Head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools
3. To asssess the influence of spiritual competency of Head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools
4. To assess the influence of practical competency of Head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools

2. Methodology

In this study, both quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed but separately. The aim was to draw valid inferences about what has been analysed and to avoid any spurious relationships. The quantitative data were subjected to computer software, Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) Version 23. This software enabled the researcher to record variables, select cases and to compute new variables. Through the use of SPSS software, the researcher determined descriptive such as means, frequencies, and percentages as well as cross-tabulation or chi-square and model goodness of fit test between independent and dependent variables. This enabled the researcher to confirm the existence of the relationship, direction of relation and strength of the relationship between the dependent variables and independent variables. Also, qualitative data were organized prior to being edited, coded or grouped, tabulated or compiled by the researcher. As such triangulation was employed in data analysis. In the course of presenting the findings, quantitative data were concretized by qualitative data obtained through interviews, focus groups, observations and information obtained from documents.

2.1 Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis is not guided by universal rules (Rao and Woolcock, 2003), is a very fluid process that is highly dependent on the evaluator and the context of the study. The literature describes the process of qualitative data analysis as involving: transformation of raw data by identifying, examining, preparing and organising masses of raw textual data collected, reducing, mapping, exploring, describing patterns and trends and categorizing the data into themes in relation to the research problem, questions and conceptual framework of the study by using a process of coding, and condensing the codes in order to interpret them and provide their underlying meanings; and finally displaying the data in an organized, compressed assortment of information that allows verified conclusions to be made (Patton, 2002: 41; Braun and Clarke, 2006; 2013; Ngulube, 2015).

Accordingly, the qualitative data analysis in this study, identified, prepared, organized, coded and categorized the qualitative data into patterns and themes in relation to research questions and conceptual framework and the results were used to complement quantitative findings. This section provides a loosely structured guide for the steps the researcher undertook when analyzing qualitative data.

Thematic data analysis was used to analyze interview transcripts and relevant documents in order to identify patterns of recurring themes and sub-themes in line with the research questions. Content analysis is the most common form of analysis in qualitative research as it emphasizes in pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (or "themes") within data (Lacey and Luff, 2001; Creswell et al., 2004). Both conceptual and relational analyses were applied in content analysis. In the conceptual analysis, important concepts (themes) were established and analyzed based on the frequency of occurrence during discussions and its trend in a text or communications. On the other hand, relational analysis groups together the related themes and or patterns of data. Themes are important to the description of a phenomenon and are associated with a specific research question. This study adopted the six procedures of thematic analysis proposed by Lacey and Luff (2001) (see Table 2.1)

2.2 Quantitative data analysis

Data collected through structured questionnaires were summarized and coded. Statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 23.0 and Microsoft excel 2007 were employed for data analysis and figure construction respectively. This software is user-friendly in analyzing and presenting statistical data (Landau and Everitt, 2004). The quantitative analysis was both descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics such as chi-square, correlation coefficients; Phi, Cramer's V and Kendall's tau-b, frequency, and percentage distribution and measures of central tendency; mean and standard deviation, were calculated for all four objectives of the study. The descriptive data were analyzed to describe and gain an understanding of various sample characteristics (Hair et al., 2007).

3. Findings and Discussion

In this section, the results on the influence of competency attribute of head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools in Mbulu district. The level of competency attribute of heads of schools in school leadership was measured by 11 statements or items of interest as indicated in Table 3.1. The section answers the question; How to determine the competency attributes of the head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools in Mbulu district?

Descriptive statistics such as frequency distribution and measures of central tendency (mean and standard deviations) of every item for all participants and of all 11 items for every 202 participants were quantified to measure the distribution and variability of school heads' competency attribute from the mean, on average. Also, inferential statistics were performed to examine the extent to which competency attributes of school heads determine the students' academic performance specifically in Mbulu district and Tanzania.

Frequency distribution of competency indicators was calculated . Table 3.1 summarizes frequencies and percentages distribution of the 11 items of competency attribute to measure the extent of competency attribute on school leadership and its impact on students’ academic performance in Mbulu district. The results show that all 11 qualities (items) of competency attribute were found to be possessed by heads of schools because they were important in school leadership and hence students’ academic performance in Mbulu districts.

Competency of the head of school is crucial as it defines what a leader does and how does it. For that reason, a school head must build school capacity through an effective leadership style to influence student achievement through teachers. To enable this school head must have or be able to develop the capacity and competency to work with school staffs to focus on curriculum, instruction and student learning outcomes.

The competency attribute has three sub-attributes, namely, work competency, emotional competency and spiritual competency (Goolamally and Ahmad, 2014). In one hand, items such as quality giving direction; ability to focus in the future; and professionalism fall under work competency. On the other hand, items Heads of schools being convincing when developing a vision; facilitation and negotiation; organizational climate and culture; and managing change are categorized as emotional competency. Also, contribution to the community and profession fall under spiritual competency.

In this study, descriptive results (Table 3.1) of HoS competency indicate that the item which says heads of schools adhere to professionalism scored the highest frequency of 78.70% (sum of 33.70% strongly disagreed and 45.00% disagreed). This means that professionalism is the most important attribute of inspirational leadership in HoS of Mbulu district. It also means that heads of schools in Mbulu district abide highly to professionalism. They follow and enforce rules, guidelines, procedures and the code of conduct for the head of schools and teachers as a teacher him/herself. Also, another item which scored the highest sand considered highly essential for competent HoS was; HoS contribute to the profession and community (78.70%).

Furthermore, Table (3.1) show that most of the surveyed teachers reported that HoS were professional and thus contributed to the development of the professionalism of themselves and their staffs in general. Supplementary findings showed that HoS emphasized professionalism among staffs by enforcing adherence to professional moral principles (ethics), codes of conduct, professional culture, and values. These included prohibiting staff-student or student-student sexual relationship or affair, prohibiting students from having affair with anyone in the community or beyond, and to make sure affairs among teachers does not affect work by reminding them to be faithful to their relationships.


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Competence in Schools in Tanzania. Influence of the Competence of the Principal on the Students' Academic Performance in Secondary Schools
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leadership, competence, performance
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Chelestino Mofuga (Author), 2020, Competence in Schools in Tanzania. Influence of the Competence of the Principal on the Students' Academic Performance in Secondary Schools, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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