National Examinations Council

NECTA Absenteeism Causes, Effects And Way Forward

The National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA), conducted a research on the problem of discrepancy between the number of registered candidates to sit for Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE) and the actual number
of candidates who sit for that examination. Basically, the number of registered candidates had been bigger than the actual number of students who sit for the examinations. This trend of discrepancies occurred for more than five years, from 2010 to 2015.

The Head of Research and Evaluation Unit, Dr. Alfred Mdima, said that the specific objectives of the research were to investigate the causes that led to the registered students’ absenteeism or failure to appear for the examinations. The research went further to find out the effects of that problem to individuals and to the nation as a whole. Lastly, the research aimed at finding out the strategies for overcoming such a problem.

The research was informed with Cohen’s (1954) Theory of Social Deviance in the sense that absenteeism is the violation of school by-laws. Psychologically, Cohen
argues that the violation of by-laws among students is the result of psychological disorder.

Another theory that informed the research was Merton’s (1968) Theory of People’s Reception of Social Values. This theory argues that people in society do differ in receiving social values. Moreover, there are those who accept social values in terms of
both aims and means of achieving them.

Another group is that of people who accept aims but do not accept the strategies for achieving those goals. The third group is that of people who accept strategies, but they do not accept the aims. The fourth group is the people who do not accept both aims and means of achieving those goals and become against without having any other alternative in their life.

The last group is of people who do not accept both aims and strategies, but they form their own aims and strategies
for achieving their aims, even if they are against the social values.

The last theory was that of Skinner (1904 – 1990) who argues that the violation of laws in the society is not an abrupt behaviour, but it is something developing  gradually. For him, the solution of moulding good behaviour for a person is to condition him/her since childhood by providing him/her with instructions and positive motivations.

As for the methodology, this study used the quantitative research approach. The instruments used to collect data were open and closed questionnaires. All educational
stakeholders were represented in the research sample, including students, teachers, educational officers, government officials, parents, social organizational leaders and famous people. Data were collected from 12 regions and twenty-four districts of Tanzania.

The findings showed that students’ poor home environment was the leading cause of their failure to attend the examinations. Poor home environment included parents’ poor educational background, single parent upbringing, step parents’ families, poverty in families, absence of peace in homes through parents’ quarrels and absence of manpower at homes, hence the students missed educational guidance and engaged
in negative groups.

The second cause was relationships that led to early pregnancies, hence failure to appear for CSEE. That was due to foolish age, whereby students failed to overcome love challenges and as a result, many of
them engaged in love relationship with different sex.

The last major cause was the students’ desire to acquire wealth early. This included students’ thinking that they were wasting time going to school, while their peers and other people who didn’t go to school were
becoming rich because of engaging in businesses, agriculture and livestock domestication.  This has caused many students to fail seeing the logic of accomplishing their studies. They see some workers who went to school just like very ordinary people in society when compared to some people who didn’t go to school but are wealthy.

The resulting effect of students’ failure to sit for CSEE because of absenteeism led to missing employment opportunities in formal sectors since they don’t have certificates. Hence, some regret missing out employment opportunities and others begin struggling to sit for CSEE, as mature candidates while having a lot of family responsibilities. Another effect was the  failure of absentees to get a chance to continue with higher education through the formal system.

This goes hand in hand with the difficulty in upgrading their education formally, while their age mismatch with the required age, or by being counted that they have already lost their opportunity that they had been given.

However, the nation was also affected by wasting a lot of money in preparing buildings, equipment and salaries for schools’ staff, while some targeted students could not achieve what they were supposed
to achieve. To overcome the problem of absentees in CSEE, the study recommended for all secondary schools to establish and improve guidance and counselling services to students. This will help the students who never had an opportunity to get these services to have them at school. Guidance and counselling services normally create awareness on the importance of education and certificates among students, and as a
result they see the necessity of sitting for CSEE. They also provide students with techniques of overcoming the challenges they face at home.

The second strategy suggested by the study was the school management in collaboration with the Ward Executive Officer, to make close follow ups for students who show symptoms of truancy and hold frequent meetings with parents to stop such behaviours before they become chronic.
Lastly, the study recommends the government to continue taking actions against students who engage in early marriages. This should be in line with heavy sentencing of people who engage in early marriages; while at the same time creating public awareness on the effects of absenteeism of students in CSEE.