Influence of Teachers’ ethical practices on students discipline in selected secondary schools

Influence of Teachers’ ethical practices on students discipline in selected secondary schools




1.0       Introduction

There has been both a public and private outcry that discipline has broken down in Secondary schools. The teachers’ have far reaching influence on their learners. The influence can either be positive or negative. Learners are more prone to learn from the teachers’ out of class interactions since as Ssekamwa (2006) reveals, teachers are supposed to be the learners’ mirror and model. According to (Seburimage, 2008), discipline plays a key role in the process of education and that to have an orderly and ideal learning situation, discipline is necessary for teachers and students.

1.1       Background to the Study

Teaching as a profession in Uganda was attributed to formal education introduced by missionaries in the 19th century, that over ran the traditional informal pre-colonial education that was conducted in most society’s homesteads which acted as classrooms. Thus, there was no code of conduct as we know it today, but instead good morals were socially imparted (Nsigarira, 2006). However, such an informal education was undermined by the formal education. Formal education transformed the teaching service into a real profession. That meant for one to qualify as a teacher, he had to go for training in teachers’ colleges after 1870’s and since then, it remained a profession with even a code of conduct.  It should however be noted that like it was during the colonial days, the missionary period had no written code of conduct for teachers. That was due to the fact that the administrators of the time gave morals the first priority unlike today where some are too reluctant. In other words, colonial education lacked a well written code of ethics for teachers. It was assumed that a good teacher conducts himself or herself in the best way either according to Christian or Islamic principles.
On the other hand however, with the attainment of independence in Uganda (2002) there arose a need for the code of ethics for the teachers. Indeed one of the serious educational problems encountered in Uganda during the post independent period, was how to control the professional standards of teachers. That was due to the fact that in the pre independence days, nothing binding was put into place to regulate teachers’ conduct. In 1963, the Education Act was passed which empowered the government to control public education. That brought to an end the religious ethical frame work that had been guiding teachers’ conduct. That led to the professional crisis among teachers in the 1970s and 1980s. Teachers’ associations were formed to monitor their conduct but efforts to come up with a code of conduct were futile.
            According to Nsigarira (2006), The Public Service Act of 1969 and the Education Act of 1970 still emphasized state controlled education, to ensure the proper conduct of teachers. The Public Service Commission issued one (amendment) regulations 1996 under the section of the Public Service (teacher) Act of 1969 of Uganda. It was that which served as the code of ethics at the time. In IkereEkiti, Ekiti State like elsewhere, it was this code which was being abused by some teachers. According to the survey conducted among secondary school teachers in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State, some teachers did not know that teachers’ ethical conduct hard a direct influence on students’ discipline and those teachers did not know that they have a duty to educate the students. Like Deon; a Greek word meaning obligation or duty, teachers’ code of conduct is obligatory. Every teacher, by that very fact is bound to follow the injunctions of this code.
            Deontological theory of Kant (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2008); when one fulfills an obligation, he or she has done right. Failure to fulfill an obligation is itself wrong. From the deontological point of view, therefore, when teachers follow their moral or ethical code, they become more professional and this has far reaching influence on their Students’ behavior. For instance, when a teacher treasures and acknowledges the uniqueness and individuality and specific needs of each student and provide guidance, counseling and encouragement to each to realize his full potential, he has done right as a teacher because he has fulfilled one of the duties of a teacher (UNATU, 2005).
Adams (1986) holds that discipline plays a big role in teaching and learning process. However, he remarks that school rules are often verbose, enumerating petty wrong doings that will not be tolerated by school authorities and the accompanying sanctions in detail. They are a top down trickle affair, imposed on students without students being given a chance to evaluate them. They stress the negative without attempting to describe the kind of positive behaviour which the school would like to be emulated. Since rules and regulations are externally set, students tend to resist them and at worst to break them.
For the purpose of this research study, the following terms take this meaning: Ethics generally refers to the study of human morality. Ethical means principles of right or wrong, morally well or correct, Longman (2005). Code of ethics is a set of rules regulating the morality of a person or a class of persons. Code of conduct is a set of rules regulating the behavior of a person or a class of persons. The word discipline means the development of self worth, self-control, respect for self and others plus the adherence to school routine set up in terms of its schedules and school regulations. Student discipline is defiant behavior, misbehavior and disruptive behavior, while to others student discipline means the general conduct of the student self-denial, self control, ordered behavior and obedience to authority. Longman (2005) defines an influence as power to have an effect on the way someone or something develops, behaves, or thinks without using direct force or commands. A teacher is a person who regularly instructs a person in a school to which there is Teachers Professional Code of Conduct (UNATO). With the young children, it is expected that the teacher and school administration play the role of external authority to impose discipline so that children can settle down and learn.
            However, discipline should be goal-oriented such that even as a teacher plays the role of external control, he or she should be inculcating the habits for order and self discipline. This creates self discipline and enhances performance. The dependent variable is students’ discipline and in this study, students’ discipline will include; attention, punctual and attendance. The independent variable in this study will be influence of teachers’ ethical practices which  included; teachers’ punctuality, code of dress, just and trustworthy of which leads the student to observe a strict discipline so as to allow his or her concentration on studies hence better performance in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.
According to Bandura (2007), students can learn a lot from their teachers. The teachers work under ethical theory which asserts that the rightness or wrongness of an act is dependent upon the nature of the consequences or outcomes of that action. That is to say an act is right because the outcomes are good and teachers ought to work with focus. Is the problem arising from lack of strict rules and regulations, lack of teachers’ counseling and guidance to students’ and harsh punishments or poor managers who are the teachers? There has been however no attempt to assess how teachers’ ethical practices influence students’ discipline. This study is therefore conceived to investigate the contribution of influence of teachers’ ethical practices on students’ discipline. Hence, the agency for the study appraising the influence of teachers’ ethical practices on students’ discipline in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.
Despite formal education being over one hundred years old in Uganda, with so many teacher training colleges all emphasizing ethics, formation of teachers’ associations and penalization of teachers who happen to abuse the code of conduct, some continued not to live up to their professional standards. That was supported by endless reports on cases of teachers’ involvement in examination- malpractice, corruption, teachers’ learners’ sexual relationship, thefts.
According to the Onion, Friday, 29-June, 2009 pg 22, there was a bye-bye holiday party in Nansana where young students were treated to an optical nutrition of erotic dancing by karaoke dancers, while several couples of students were nabbed at Munyonyo Lake shore romancing with the breeze as they enjoyed explorations of their bodies and sweetly servicing each other. Worst of all, a couple of students were nabbed swapping saliva; the boy was sacking the tender lips of a young girl whose mother thought was at school in Kajansi. Such acts are depictions of the rotten manners of our future citizens. He called for police and all concerned authorities to act with ultimate haste to curb down the heinous acts before the situation runs out of hand. The teachers have a duty to see to it that they act as managers and control students by working closely with parents to set better study time tables that will guide students in holidays.
In 2004 about 20 schools were burnt in strikes and mysterious fires. Schools that suffered fires include; (1) Eleyo High School, (2) Ajeolagun Grammar School, (3) St.Stephen High School, (4) Amooye Grammar School (5) Staff School College of Education. According to Daily Monitor (Tuesday March 24 2009), X-Budo Headmaster sued over another Uganda shillings 192 million loan from bank of Baroda and 1.7 billion from Barclays bank, Unfortunately, to some teachers, the moral fiber is either lacking or scanty, and familiarity with code of conduct is very poor. Consequently, the observance of the code of conduct is very problematic and is causing a big out cry from the community of Ikere Ekiti.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

There arose a private and public outcry that instead of positively impacting learners, teachers are constraining students’ discipline as a result of their dysfunctional ethical practices through late coming mistrust, poor dress code, lack of implementation of rules and regulations, lack of counseling and guidance to students’ and harsh punishments. Onion, Friday, 29-June, 2009 pg 22, there was a bye-bye holiday party in Nansana where young students were treated to an optical nutrition of erotic dancing by karaoke dancers. This is because the students are exposed to many dangers like drug taking as some students were arrested taking opium and others having it in their suit cases, and where a student confesses having infected school mates with HIV/ AIDS which was one of the damning confessions of how HIV positive teenagers put colleagues at risk. The Red Pepper, July, 9 -2010 and The Sunrise, June, 4- 2010 pg1, which reported alarming drug abuse in schools.
Unfortunately, there was however no attempt to assess how teachers’ ethical practices influence students’ discipline. Consequently, the study sought to investigate the relationship between teachers’ ethical practices and students’ discipline in secondary schools.

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study was to establish the extent to which teachers’ ethical practices bare influence on students’ discipline in selected secondary schools Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State..

1.4       Specific Objectives

The study had the following objectives:
(i)                To establish the influence of teachers’ code of conduct on students behavior in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.
(ii)             To find out the influence of teachers’ skills counseling and guidance to students’ in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.

1.5       Research Questions

The study had the following research questions:
(i)                How does teachers’ code of conduct influence students’ behavior in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.?
(ii)             How does counseling and guidance influence students’ discipline in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.? 
(iii)           How does teachers’ punctuality influence students’ time management in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.?

1.6       Scope of the study

The study focused on establishing influence of teachers’ ethical practices on students’ discipline that is: teachers’ code of conduct on students’ behavior, teachers’ counseling and guidance to students and teachers’ punctuality on students’ time management in four selected secondary schools in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State.

1.7       Significance of the Study

The study focused on influence of teachers’ ethical practices and students’ behavior. The study will benefit the following; School administration and staff will benefit from improved discipline of both students and teachers.   Board of governors will find it easy to solve issues pertaining discipline since it will have improved and everybody involved administratively.  Ministry of Education and Sports will benefit as policy makers for their implementation , Parents’ Teachers’ Association (PTA), and students, through creation of principles governing the institutions as they will all be involved in formulation of the rules and regulations governing the school. Further, the findings of the study are likely to prompt more research in IkereEkiti, Ekiti State..

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