How to integrate ethical dimensions in teaching standards

On 9 and 10 October 2019, IIEP participated in the Regional Consultation on teaching standards organized by the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. The purpose of this consultation was for key education stakeholders to review and comment on an “international guidance framework for elaborating national or regional teaching standards to support countries in stepping up their progress on increasing the supply of qualified teachers”.

This activity came as a follow up to the 10th Policy Dialogue Forum of the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030. During this forum, UNESCO Member States issued an Outcome Statement asking for the development of a guidance framework for this issue. The Delhi meeting was the second of the regional consultations, the first having taken place in Latin America (Georgetown, Guyana) from 17-19 July 2019.

Muriel Poisson, IIEP Programme Specialist, was invited to give a presentation on “Promoting inclusion and diversity: How teacher codes of conduct can help”. Referring to IIEP’s work on the design and enforcement of teacher codes of conduct, she invited the audience to reflect on how to integrate ethical dimensions in the teaching standards set at national, regional, and/or international levels.

The consultation workshop was opened by Mr Eric Falt, Head of the UNESCO Delhi Office, and Dr Hrushikesh Senapaty, Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

It gathered about 300 invited participants, comprised of:

  • teachers,
  • representatives from teacher organizations,
  • academics,
  • parent-teacher association representatives,
  • pre-service teachers and regional youth ambassadors, and
  • Teacher Task Force regional focal points.

The Consultation Forum took place on Day 1, while Day 2 was devoted to a closed meeting of the international expert group. Both events provided the opportunity to discuss preparatory documents commissioned by the International Task Force on Teachers. These included: a research and policy literature review; a mapping and comparative analysis of national and regional frameworks currently in place or under development, and; the major outcomes of an online survey.

Discussions highlighted the importance of considering the “demonstration of personal and professional ethics such as integrity” in professional standards frameworks, along with professional knowledge and professional practice. This also came out in the online survey, where respondents emphasized the need to take into consideration dimensions such as respect for students' rights/dignity; respect for parents/guardians, and; respect for terms of employment.


The key question then raised during the Delhi consultation was whether ethical standards – usually included in teacher codes – should be reflected in professional standards or whether they should be stipulated in a separate document. The EI/UNESCO Global Framework of Professional Teaching Standards provides some guidance in this respect, stating:

This framework suggests that governments and teacher associations and unions may choose to develop additional Domains to augment the Framework of Professional Teaching Standards where specific issues are prioritized. These might include, for example, a Domain related to Ethics, which are not specifically addressed in this Framework except in broad terms.One argument in favour of such an approach is that separating teaching and ethical standards can allow different enforcement mechanisms to be put in place.

However, one could also argue that teacher professional standards need to be considered in a comprehensive way. The conclusion reached by those present was that, in a transitional period, ethical standards should, at a minimum, be properly referred to in teaching standards, but that a separate frame should then be developed where these are made very explicit.