Teacher codes of conduct

Plans for the improvement of the quality of education often focus on quantitative data like number of teachers by age/grade/status/level of qualifications and pupils/teacher ratios, rather than on ‘intangible inputs’. These ‘intangible inputs’, such as transparent systems for collecting and disseminating information, and professional and ethical commitments of teachers and staff, are however crucial to the delivery of quality education.

J. Hallak and M. Poisson


A code of conduct is a set of written guidelines, produced by public authorities or professional organizations, which details the set of recognized ethical norms (or values) and professional standards of conduct to which all members of a profession must adhere. In particular, such codes aim to enhance the commitments, dedications, and efficiency of service of members of the teaching profession, and to provide self-disciplinary guidelines by establishing norms of professional conduct.   

Codes are being developed in an increasing number of countries (view map) either by an autonomous body, as in Hong Kong, or by teacher organizations themselves, as in the province of Ontario in Canada. Research has shown that teacher codes can be an effective instrument for promoting ethics in education. However, their implementation sometimes proves difficult due to – among other variables – limited access, unclear content, and inadequate teacher training, as shown in IIEP’s research in South Asia (access publication).

To help countries in the design and implementation of teacher codes, IIEP has developed a web-based resource platform (which includes detailed guidelines, codes from more than 50 different countries, teacher training materials, relevant links, etc.). The platform also provides resources devised to assist countries that are in the process of developing their own codes, and willing to learn from international experience in this field – as is presently the case in Laos.

The Education International (EI) Declaration on Professional Ethics was adopted at the 3rd World Congress of Education International, Jomtien, 2001

Workshop in Asia

Teacher codes of conduct in Asia and the Pacific, Seoul, 11-14 May 2011