The causes of ethical turpitude in schools: Evidence from four schools in Gauteng, South Africa
This article reports the findings of a qualitative study that explored the causes of ethical turpitude in the four schools in Gauteng Province of South Africa. Semi-structured interviews were held with each school principal, eight heads of department and sixteen teachers. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the generated data. The findings suggest that most participants had pedestrian knowledge of ethical leadership and failed to demonstrate an appreciation of their agency role in promoting an ethical culture both in leadership and teaching despite the prescripts of the SACE Code of Professional Ethics and other laws governing their profession. Despite these negative findings, a minority of participants indicated how they promoted an ethical culture, integrity and honesty in their interactions with their learners. Amidst all the ethical challenges at the school level, the findings further suggest that there was minimal support by the Provincial Department of Education, SACE and teacher unions to equip the school management teams and teachers on ethical leadership and teaching. While numerous ethical turpitudes were unearthed, this study posits that the school management teams have agency and direct responsibility to address ethical challenges in their schools. While outside role-players have a supportive role to play, school management teams cannot give up and solely blame them for internal ethical turpitudes.
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