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

A Case Study of Mbulu District

Academic Paper, 2020

27 Pages




1.1 Main objective
1.2 Specific objectives








This study assessed the influence of the integrity attribute of the school 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 school’s integrity in influencing students’ academic performance using questionnaires, in-depth interview and focus group discussion. The collected data were analysed using SPSS version 23 for quantitative data, and thematic analysis for qualitative data. Significant relationship between integrity and students’ academic performance was revealed. The study concluded that integrity attribute significantly influences positively the students’ academic performance Therefore, the study recommends the government to allocate enough funds for professional development for the aspirant of head of secondary schools and review educational policy on the training and development of teachers before and after appointment into headship post.

KEY WORDS: Integrity, leadership, Academic performance.


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The concept of integrity in education context is of paramount importance for educational institutions like schools prosperity. Integrity attribute can be regarded as principal and muscles of any organization intended to improve performance and sustainability of the institution through running effectively and efficiently. Duggar, (2015), states that integrity comprises of characteristics of an individual that are consistent, considerate, compassionate, transparent, honest and ethical status. Integrity is related with keeping promises and keeping thrust, respect and responsibility (Turknett, 2007). Therefore, the current study seeks to explore ways to improve student academic performance through integrity.

The study used mixed method quantitative and qualitative approaches with mixed concurrent explanatory cross -sectional survey questionnaires, to explore efficiency of the integrity of Head of schools on the student academic performance in Mbulu District. There six attributes of integrity, accountability towards individual and society, clean, efficient, and trustworthy and access of information. According to Najib, (2009), these attributes can create harmony, transparency services in workplace and will help contribute to the development of the secondary schools and improvement in leadership and administration, which in turn leads to good academic performance of students. In the present context where the government emphasizes the human model of the country in terms of intellectual knowledge, expertise and skills, integrity also plays a important role of component in improving the robustness of the educational performance model. Integrity is a contributor to the recognition of lives enriched by work and relationship in secondary schools.

In particular, integrity is deemed as a vital component as it is fundamental to the functioning of private as well as public secondary schools. Integrity reduces external regulations (Najib, 2009 and sidek, 2009), enhances cooperation with stakeholders, strengthens stakeholders confidence in secondary schools (Mahathir, 2001), and diminishes conflict (Hubert et al, 2007). In contrast, working without integrity, such as the occurrence of misunderstanding, fraud and corruption can result in enormous financial losses, severe reputational damages and bankruptcy (Sidek, 2009). Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes that connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances (Hopkins, 2012).

In context of individuals, integrity plays important roles that reflect the ability of the individual (Head of school) in performing assigned tasks in educational management, particularly in secondary schools. Integrity acts as the foundation of characters that describes an individual as an honest person in every area of his or her life. Meanwhile Hidalgo (2007) stated that integrity acts as guidelines, a benchmark, and a point of references or a goal that is used to make decisions that rely on truth and honesty. A study by Else bower, (2013), clarified the functions of integrity as appositive attribute that is fundamental for leadership. Therefore, it is imperative that leaders, lead with integrity, honesty, and values, should be concerned with individual wholeness and conscience, have the quality of being true to oneself and recognize that it is essential to maintain personal and professional relationship.

Leadership has a classical and vast history which associates many researchers work with it because there is an assumption that leaders are not born (Aline and Ramkumar, 2018), they can be developed (Darling-Hammond et al., 2007; Ardichvili, Dag, and Manderscheid, 2016). According to Northhouse (2007), leadership is a process of an individual to influence group(s) of individuals towards attainment of a common goal. Moreover, Swanson and Holton's (2001) defined leadership as application of expertise that is a combination of experiences, problem-solving skills, and knowledge in achieving a stipulated objective. Consequently, in the twenty-first century, a significance of leadership for successful operation of secondary schools had been widely acknowledged (Bennis and Naus, 2003).

Fundamentally, academics stand as a branch of education (Feather, 2016). While academics literally is knowledge especially on theoretical perspectives one gets by attending secondary school education, the later means inculcating the knowledge, moral values and positive thinking (Abubakar, 2018). According to Annie, Howard and Mildred (1996), academic performance is the outcome of education or the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved their educational goals. Academic performance is measured by the final grade earned in the course. The Divisions are used as a convenient summary measure of the academic performance of secondary schools’ students in Tanzania. The Divisions are better measurement because it provides a greater insight into the relative level of performance of individuals. Basically, various studies have applied such measurements in combination (Ismail, 2016).

Likewise, Mbulu district has been struggling to improve school facilities to facilitate effective teaching and learning (RCC, Manyara Report, 2016) and the report shows that the district has surplus facilities and infrastructures for schools, compared to other districts in the country, yet the performance is poor, for instance, the NECTA results for 30 secondary schools from 2014 to 2018 were as follows: Division, I was 131, division II was 889, division III was 1684, division IV were 5012 and division 0 were 3087 students for just five years. Therefore, students got division four and zero 5012 and 3087 respectively are regarded as failures because they can't proceed with advanced level studies (NECTA, 2014, NECTA 2015, NECTA, 2016, NECTA, 2017 and NECTA, 2018). To accomplish this study focused into the following objectives:


1.1 Main objective

To assess the influence of integrity attribute of Head of Schools on the student’s academic performance in selected Secondary schools in Tanzania.

1.2 Specific objectives

In order to address the general objective, the study sought to accomplish the following three intertwined specific objectives:

i. To assess the influence of accountability attribute of Head of schools on the student academic performance in selected secondary schools.
ii. To assess the influence of honesty attribute of Head of schools on the students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools.
iii. To assess the influence of efficiency attribute of Head of schools on the students’ academic performance in selected secondary schools.


To address the research objectives mixed research approach was opted. This allowed the use of explanatory and cross-sectional because it meticulously describes the influence of integrity attributes on students' academic performance using data collected at one point in time. Thus, this design cannot gauge the temporal variations or a trend in the data collected (Kothari, 2009). Moreover, the survey design was selected because of its aptness in obtaining the obligatory quantity of data in running quantitative analysis as Hair et al., (2006). A survey can also be standardized to allow an easy comparison of results (Nyamsogoro, 2010). Furthermore, the explanatory survey is an effective tool for getting a cause-effect relationship (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2005) and the results can be generalized to a large population. As a result, the quantitative findings of this study were generalized to the whole Manyara region, and to the country, Tanzania. Qualitative approach is more in-depth and holistic than quantitative, generating rich materials on which to base the findings of a piece of research

Qualitative methods were used to supplement the findings to obtain views, attitudes, and personal perceptions, which are termed as personal constructs (Shek, 2012). Qualitative research methods, unlike quantitative methods are best able to take account of the nature of human perceptions, thoughts and ideas, which recognize the complex and dynamic quality of the interpersonal world (Salmon and Rickaby, 2012). Given the ethics, integrity, perpetual, interpersonal and relational nature of organizational performance, a qualitative approach to this study is highly appropriate in order to yield relevant insights (Thomas, 2002). Qualitative research was conducted to 237 teachers from public and private secondary schools. The data were analyzed using thematic content analysis and emerging themes and sub themes from constructs were elicited and compared to the literature of integrity and performance. The approach identifies commonalities and differences in qualitative data, before focusing on relationship between different parts of data, thereby seeking to draw descriptive and or explanatory conclusions clustered around themes.

A total sample size of 237 was used, which was obtained using the formula developed by Yamane (1967), which was calculated as follows;

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Where, Sample size, Population size with certain characteristics and Precision factor coefficient. This is also termed as the desired margin of error (ME) expressed as a proportion. According to Krejcie and Morgan (1970) and Tejada and Punzala (2012), this formula is simple and gives a high degree of accurate sample size, also fits with the available parameter N. Therefore, according to the formula:-

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Influence of Integrity Attribute on the Students’ Academic Performance

The results for assessment of the influence of integrity attribute of the heads of schools on the students' academic performance in selected secondary schools in Mbulu district is presented in table 3.1 below. The table 3.1 summarises frequencies and percentages distribution of the 30 items of integrity to show the extent of application of integrity attribute on school leadership and its impact on students’ academic performance. The results indicate that the item which says the head of school would steal from the organization scored the highest frequency of 85.70% (sum of 74.80% strongly disagreed and 10.90% disagreed). This means heads of schools cannot steal the school's resources. Therefore, the integrity attribute of trustworthy is possessed and practiced by heads of schools in Mbulu district. Accordingly, the second-highest score was found to be the item that says heads of schools can be trusted with confidential information (85.10%). So, heads of schools were found to be trustworthy in such a way that they cannot steal school's resources did not hurt someone's career because of a grudge (85.10%) nor they were hypocrite (85.10%).

Similarly, the item that asks if the head of schools would withhold information or constructive feedback because he/she wants someone to fail was the third important attribute of integrity with a frequency of 84.20%. Other items which scored highest frequencies and considered important attributes of integrity in Mbulu district include: would spread rumours or gossip to try to hurt people or the organization (84.20%), is rude or uncivil to co-workers (81.70%), shows unfair favouritisms toward some people (80.70%), would engage in sabotage of the organization (82.60%), likes to bend the rules (78.80%) and would make trouble for someone who got on his or her bad side (78.20%).

In case of the items which scored the lowest frequencies, Table 3.1 shows that item which says the heads of schools’ ridicule people for their mistakes scored the lowest frequency of 30.20%. This means that heads of schools did not mentor and advise teachers when they make mistakes so that they cannot repeat similar mistakes in the future. Thus, the item was found to be the least important attribute of integrity possessed and practiced by the heads of schools in Mbulu district. Other attributes/items which were less important and less possessed and practiced by heads of schools in Mbulu district were; would try to take credit for other people’s ideas (57.90%), enjoys turning down staff’s requests (60.40%), would lie to me (65.30%) and has a high moral standard (64.80%).

Furthermore, the mean and standard deviation were calculated to ascertain data variability and reliability. The results in Table 3.2 indicate that the item which says the head of school cannot be trusted with confidential information scored the highest average of 3.9 (SD=1.9). This item has little dispersion and variability around the mean of the data set, on average. So the values in the statistical data set are close to the mean of a sample population. Similarly, the item that asks if the head of school has poor moral standard averaged 3.62 (SD=1.46) signifying that data variability around the mean is very small. Besides, the item which asks whether the head of school try to take credit for other person's ideas averaged 2.42 (SD=1.35). This item also possesses consistency data.

However, according to Al-Saleh and Yousif (2009:196), the items which showed high variability around the mean of data set they just reflect a large amount of variation in the group that is being studied. A small standard deviation can be a goal in certain situations where the results are restricted, but in situations where one just observes and record data; a large standard deviation is not necessarily a bad thing (Rumsey, 2016).

According to scholars such as Ojo (2011), Lumpkin, Claxton and Wilson (2014), Goolamally and Ahmad (2014) and Duggar, (2015), the HoS with the attribute of integrity are trustworthy, sincere, transparent, just and, as much as possible, show congruence between their feelings, thoughts, actions and words. Besides, covers personal qualities such as self-respect, loyalty, and honesty towards oneself and staff and other stakeholders, do as they say, mentor their followers, have high moral values, not arrogant, not egoistic, courteous and respectful towards others. Thus, based on those qualities of effective secondary school leaders, in this study the 30 integrity constructs (items) were grouped into six categories of integrity attributes namely; trust, teamwork, sincere (not a hypocrite), altruistic (not selfish), not vindictive or arrogant and just (no favouritism).

In this study, the results revealed that head of schools (HoS) were trustworthy as they could not lie to teachers about important work-related information or engage in a sabotage plan against the school or even steal from the school. It was found out that HoS had a high moral standard such that he/she cannot bend the organization rules for personal gains, spread false rumours and gossips, blackmail staff or falsify records to help his/her career on the expense of the others.

The findings were corroborated and validated by key informants during a semi-structured interview. They reported that HoS can be trusted even with confident information. Moreover, as leaders, they understand the gravity of confidentiality of the information and the severity of punishment if they leaked confident information relating to work to other people/staff that are not entitled to its access. In a similar capacity, they can also contain and protect even social confident information regarding co-workers and people in the community he/she lives. During a semi-structured interview with the education officer, he had these to say:

“Yeah, the heads of schools are trustworthy people and very cooperative, enthusiastic, humble and their participation in different school activities is invaluable..., however, challenges always are there... some heads of school are inexperienced thus impede school and students’ academic performance... you know headmaster’s leadership skills are essential for effective school management and control which are associated with students’ academic performance”

Harper (2017) argued that trust stands as the base foundation for which all leadership capabilities stem from. Similarly, in their meta-analysis Dirks and Skarlicki (2004) maintained that trust in leaders has been linked to positive job attitudes, organizational justice, psychological contracts, and effectiveness in terms of communication, organizational relationships, and conflict management. Empirical studies by Dirks and Ferrin (2002), Connell et al. (2003) and Costa (2003) have shown that having trust in one’s leader, has been tied to desirable performance outcomes. Even though trustworthiness is an important attribute, the reality is leaders may be falling short in this character. According to Scott (2014), 45 percent of employees say a lack of trust in leadership is the biggest issue impacting work performance. A recent article by Randy (2016) stated that surveys and studies point to worsening levels of trust in leadership and organizations. The report states only 40 percent of employees have a high level of trust in their management and organization and 25 percent the lowest trust to their bosses and senior leaders.

Accordingly, in this study, three participants (teachers) lamented that their HoS were not to be trusted because of the behaviour they had demonstrated. However, the level of trust in selected secondary schools of Mbulu district was relatively higher than reported by the previous studies (Scott, 2014; Randy, 2016). Of the three teachers, the first one criticized the HoS where he works for rejecting or deprived him of his eligibility and right to live in the schoolhouse and instead a new female teacher was favoured as she was of the same ethnic with HoS. The second teacher bitterly explained the incidence of his request to go for further study was rejected while a very junior female teacher was approved by HoS. The other teacher complained that the head of his school is hypocrite, gossiper, and liar, cruel, separatist and evil who cannot be trusted at all. One teacher in FGD narrated the following:

"The head of my school likes some people than others and likes to be recognized for other people's efforts...not a hypocrite but you cannot trust her completely, low moral standard and lacks essential leadership qualities"

Another teacher sadly said that:

"The head of my school is not a good person; I had requested to go for further studies but keep rejecting my request while accepted a request of very junior staff. I went to DEO and REO to get help but it turned out that my head of school had already communicated with these officers about my requests and the rejections... they didn't help me. Staffs of opposite sex and teachers of his ethnic enjoy favours from the head of school. If I made a small mistake (and other unfavourable staffs) head of school would speak of it for a whole month... for sure there is NO integrity in that leadership"

It has been long and widely been believed that a leader with teamwork spirit or qualities is expected to produce quality results (Scarnati, 2001; Tarricone and Luca, 2002; Goyette, 2016). Teamwork of teachers is an important strategy to realize educational goals of the country (Emmanuel, 2015). Schools consist of members who should work as a team for the improvement of the school by utilizing the available resources (Babyegeya, 2002).

In the current study, the results revealed that HoS possessed teamwork qualities to a large extent. To ascertain this, the study found out that HoS were interested in tasks that didn’t bring them personal glory and recognition but the responsible team. Thus, it was revealed that the HoS were team players and collaborative as they involved other teachers and staffs in decision-making process for planning, implementation, and evaluation of school projects. Hence, according to them (surveyed teachers), the involvement of teachers and staffs motivates them as it brings a sense of project ownership and thus encourages and inspires them to do their work effectively; as a result, improve school and students' academic performance.


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Integrity in Schools in Tanzania. Influence of the Integrity of the Principal on Academic Performance of Students in Secondary Schools
A Case Study of Mbulu District
Business Management
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ISBN (Book)
The author of this text is not a native English speaker. Please excuse any grammatical errors and other inconsistencies.
integrity, performance, leadership
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Chelestino Mofuga (Author), 2020, Integrity in Schools in Tanzania. Influence of the Integrity of the Principal on Academic Performance of Students in Secondary Schools, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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