1.1 Background of the Study
Education is an essential human right and a significant driver of personal and social development. It is considered a fundamental right, whose achievement is a precondition for a person's capability to claim and enjoy several other rights. Nevertheless, in societies where corruption is widespread, there is a great threat that the entire education system will be undermined. Children and adolescents usually become acquainted with corruption at schools and colleges, and corruption in the classroom is especially harmful as it normalises acceptance of corruption at a very early age (Aiyar, Mehta, and Samji, 2010). When this takes place, a central role of the education industry to teach ethical values and behavior becomes impossible. Rather, education contributes to corruption becoming the standard at all levels of society. Social trust is eroded, and the development potential of nations is sabotaged.
In Nigeria for instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) introduced the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme on 29th September, 1999 in Sokoto State, as part of its foundational national development agenda. The UBE Act was passed in April 2004, to support an academic program of the Nigerian Government that offers free, mandatory, and continuous 9-year eduation in two levels: 6 years of primary and 3 years of junior secondary education for all school aged children. However, this initiative of the government has not been realized due to endemic corruption in the education sector and weak political administration from the government with the local government levels in Nigeria for several years. In Nigeria the twin concerns of absenteeism and tardiness amongst teachers are common since teachers usually look for other avenues of livelihood since their incomes and allowances are grossly in arrears of payment and it is what they now refer to as side hustle.
In some states in Nigeria, gratuity for teachers that retired for over 10 years is yet to be paid, talk more of pensions, in spite of yearly budgetary allocations. Corrupt education practices worldwide continue to show in inefficient use of resources, and eventually prohibit the achievement of a quality education for all children. Many education scholars suggest that the Millennium Development Goals for education (Universal Completion of Primary School, and gender parity) might not be accomplished without enhancing and building the tools needed to manage corruption in education. After the launching of the UBE programme in Nigeria, the FGN provided matching grants of about N48.98 billion between 2005 and 2006, and has continued to do so on yearly basis.
Heyneman (2004) argues that education corruption includes the misuse of authority for personal and material gains. Hallak and Poisson (2001) defined corruption in education as "the methodical use of public office for personal profit whose effect is significant on access to top quality or equity in education". They posited that in a remarkably large number of nations in all regions of the world, corruption is pervasive at all levels of education, from primary schools through tertiary institutions.
They asserted that corruption appears to impact education in some crucial ways capable of bringing about absenteeism by teachers. Minimizing corruption and enhancing general education at primary and secondary levels is a crucial priority for public policies to boost the efficiency and flexibility of a country's labor force.
The significance of basic education as the structure for further education and training has long been acknowledged. It brings about the acquisition of scientific knowledge which is essential to understanding both the natural environment and the artificial world of technology (Middleton, et al, 1993).
Teacher absenteeism occurrence in Nigeria is rampant amongst teachers within the 20-39 years age bracket. As a result of education corruption that contributes to delayed or nonpayment of salaries and benefits, these teachers usually look elsewhere to satisfy their personal needs (Saspsford; Tzannatos, 1993) which they call side hustle. In Nigeria, there is no open and transparent procedure for the employment of teachers as well as, their training, retraining and promotion. This brings about corruption and frustrates many young teachers out of the noble profession. Therefore, it is important to investigate educational corruption and teacher absenteeism in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Teacher absenteeism arise from a combination of individual and systematic problems. While some causes of teacher absenteeism are quickly classified as individual choices to accept pay without providing a service, on other cases systemic issues make it hard to blame only the teacher. In systems that are corrupt and do not promote effectiveness and honesty, teachers can be equally the victims as are the students.
Despite the international recognition of the significance of education to development, teachers in Nigeria still work under poor environmental conditions and with poor and irregular pay. This is as opposed to the popular held opinion that teachers are nation builders, and their contributions can never be underestimated. To this extent, the United Nations observes October 5, of every year as Teachers' Day around the world, as a distinct day to celebrate a set of individuals that have invested their time, energy, resources, skills and abilities into moulding and shaping lives around the world. Teaching is hard work and it is poignant if it is further made tougher when teachers are compelled to work in atmospheres that are not conducive to learning.
In some situations, teachers are expected to reach unattainable goals with insufficient tools, sometimes they perform a wonder by achieving the impossible task. (Adebanibo, 2015). Due to the deplorable condition of education and teachers in Nigeria the immediate past Governor of Kaduna state declared a state of emergency in the education sector in the state by sacking over two thousand teachers. The Kaduna state government believes that one legacy for the rebirth of Nigeria is the restoration of education as a device to free the people from the traps of hardship and poverty and ignorance. It believes that the provision of free basic education in good schools and with skilled teachers is a priority of government as a path to freedom from want and disease (Akhaine, 2015).
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine educational corruption and teacher absenteeism in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives include:
i) To determine the prevalence of corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria.
ii) To investigate the reasons for corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria.
iii) To find out the impacts of corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools on national development and educational sector in Nigeria.
iv) To proffer solutions on how to curb corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
Based on the research objectives above, the following statements were considered to be the research questions for the study:
i) What is the prevalence of corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria?
ii) What are the reasons for corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria?
iii) What are the impacts of corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools on national development and educational sector in Nigeria?
iv) What are the solutions on how to curb corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following are the research hypotheses for this study:
i) There is a significant influence of corruption on absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools in Nigeria
ii) There is no significant impact of corruption and absenteeism among teachers in secondary schools on national development and educational sector in Nigeria.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The findings of the study when utilized, will help education administrators, government, non-governmental organizations, teachers, academic community, general public, stakeholders and students to understand how best to to reflect on the phenomenon of education corruption and teacher absenteeism. which has bedeviled the secondary education system in Nigeria. The research work will also serve as a data bank for future researchers on the topic or in related ones.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study was limited to South West geopolitical zone that includes, Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States, out of the 36 states in Nigeria, and it was assumed that the opinion of the people in area would be a fair representation of the opinion of the people in Nigeria. 20 teachers were selected from six government secondary schools, each from all the six states under the South West geopolitical zone. Hence, 120 teachers/respondents was used for the study.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
The study was limited by lack of research grant and current literature in the area of investigation. The distance between states in Nigeria limited the coverage to more states. But these constraints did not dilute the academic content of the study, because the typical examples of the fate of teachers in Lagos, Borno, Ebonyi and Kaduna states reflect the situations in other states.