Education International
Education International

Asia-Pacific: A National Code of Professional Ethics vital

published 9 February 2012 updated 27 February 2012

Codes of professional ethics are in the interest of students, teachers, other stakeholders in education and the teaching profession as a whole, to achieve quality education for all. That’s what delegates heard at two recent EI Asia-Pacific Region workshops on promoting Codes of Professional Ethics for the teaching profession.

The workshops - in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 24-26 January and Langkawi, Malaysia from 29 January-1 February – were aimed at developing and implementing national codes of professional ethics. These codes will follow standards set in the EI Declaration of Professional Ethics, adopted by EI’s 3rd World Congress in 2001 in Jomtien, Thailand.

Sri Lanka workshop

The three-day workshop in Sri Lanka was attended by representatives of EI’s six national affiliates: the All Ceylon Union of Teachers (ACUT), the All Ceylon Union of Teachers-Government (ACUT-G), the All Ceylon Union of English Teachers (ACUET), the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union (CTTU), the Sri Lanka Independent Teachers Union (SLITU) and the Union of Sri Lanka Teachers Solidarity (USLTS).

A national Common Code of Professional Ethics

The workshop aimed to enhance the understanding of union leaders and members on Codes of Professional Ethics adopted by unions and the Government. It also familiarised them with the EI Declaration on Professional Ethics and addressed questions relating to professionalism and ethics. Participants examined the existing Codes of Professional Ethics for Sri Lankan teachers and discussed the need and possibility of having a Common Code of Professional Ethics for teachers and how to develop it. And the workshop outlined how to prepare an action plan for the effective implementation of a “Common Code of Professional Ethics for Teachers”.

The participants concluded there is a need for Sri Lankan educators to have a Code of Professional Ethics. This will guide them through ethical rules, and help them to maintain and uphold the dignity and status of the teaching profession.

The trade unionists prepared a first draft of a national Common Code of Professional Ethics. They also agreed on an action plan to get it adopted and implemented by the six unions, as well as by the government, by October 2012.

“The EI Declaration on Professional Ethics represents the core values of the teaching profession itself,” EI Regional Coordinator Shashi Balasingh told delegates. “Its aim is not to impose a set of fundamental rules, but to provide a basis for EI affiliates to develop their own guidelines for professional codes of ethics.

“This successful seminar showed Sri Lankan educators’ unions are able to join forces to see their national and cultural diversity respected and enshrined in a Common Code of Professional Ethics.”

Malaysia workshop

Affiliates from four different countries attended the workshop organised in Malaysia: CITTA and NEAD, Cambodia; PGRI, Indonesia; NUTP and STU, Malaysia; PSTAT and NTTU, Thailand.

Participants at this workshop shared ideas about how best to adopt and implement the Code of Professional Ethics in their respective countries, and drew national plans of action to be submitted to their Executive Council/Board for consideration and implementation.

Reflect local cultural and religious sensitivities

The guest speaker, Derek Fernandez, talked about the need to have a Code of Ethics for the teaching profession, similar to medical and legal codes. Participants gave updates on the Code of Professional Ethics in their respective countries and discussed the EI Declaration of Professional Ethics. EI expects that each country will adopt its own Code of professional Ethics, taking into account local cultural and religious specificities.

“The EI Declaration of Professional Ethics is mainly intended as a blueprint for EI affiliates' own guidelines,” said EI Regional Coordinator Jerome Fernandez.

Echoing Balasingh’s words, Fernandez said this event achieved its objective to “raise awareness about norms and ethics of the teaching profession”, and a Code of Professional Ethics will “help to increase job satisfaction in education by enhancing educators’ status and self-esteem”.