E4J: The importance of teacher codes of conduct in teaching the rule of law

For over 15 years, IIEP has been promoting the use of Teacher Codes of Conduct in the fight against corruption in education systems worldwide. This was the subject of a recent workshop given during the Education Justice (E4J ) Global Dialogue Series.

Organised by UNODC, the E4J Global Dialogue Series is a set of online discussions on the topics of education for the rule of law, youth voice and the role of schools and higher education institutions contributing to the SDGs. These discussions ran from 1 to 4 December, and participants heard from international experts, educators, academics, youth representatives and other education stakeholders.

IIEP’s workshop, entitled ‘The importance of teacher codes of conduct in teaching the rule of law’, was held on the fourth and final day of the series. During the session, Muriel Poisson, IIEP Programme Specialist and Coordinator of IIEP’s research programme on Ethics and Corruption in Education made the link between ethics in education and teaching the rule of law:

“Based on our experience, our research, we are convinced that it is very difficult to address the rule of law in the education sector, if we do not also address the question of ethics in educational planning and management, and also the behavior of individuals, starting with teachers.”- Muriel Poisson

She explained how codes of conduct for teachers can promote ethical norms within the education system and can be used to target specific corruption risk areas, such as teacher absenteeism, illegal fees, favoritism or violence in the classroom.

Participants were introduced to the ethical and behavioral norms found in codes of conduct worldwide, and the various steps involved in their design and implementation. Drawing on IIEP’s research in this area, as well as examples of existing codes of conduct, Ms Poisson further explained that merely having the ethical norms in written form is not sufficient: in order for a code of conduct to have an impact, a sense of ownership needs to be created among members of the teaching profession. It also needs to be simple and accessible, it should be widely diffused, and integrated into teacher training, and the consequences for transgressing the code need to be clear.

An example of an ‘ethical dilemma’ used in teacher training in Victoria, Australia, gave participants a chance to discover practical tools that countries are using to raise awareness on ethical issues among teachers.

During the session, Camilla Petrakis, IIEP Research assistant, introduced participants to ETICO, the Institute's online resource platform for issues related to Ethics and Corruption in education. A variety of resources on teacher codes of conduct are accessible via the platform, including an interactive world map where visitors can download codes of conduct from 76 countries, detailed guidelines for the design and effective use of a code of conduct, as well as IIEP publications, scholarly articles and news reports.

Earlier this year, IIEP was also invited to develop course modules on corruption in education, as a part of UNODC E4J’s Anti-Corruption University Module series. The module series can be used by lecturers as a basis for teaching in universities and academic institutions worldwide. You can explore the modules here.   

For more details on E4J Global Dialogue Series, click here.