eJournal Woodring College of Education Western Washington University eJournal

Western Washington University

ISSN 1935-7699
Journal of Educational Controversy

Teachers’ Ethics:  Education International and the Forging of Professional Unity
Athena Vongalis-Macrow
La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia


The paper maintains that the current era, marked by a new global economy transforming economic and social development, has created the need for a reorganisation of teachers’ representation.  This paper discusses a key development in teacher organisation, namely the emergence of Education International as a global hub for teacher unionism from across the world.  This unique organisation, formulated in response to the emergence of global economies and supra-national figures, represents teachers’ response to globalised institutions and has instigated projects, such as the Professional Code of Ethics, which aim to create a sense of professional identity and unity amongst teachers.  The organisation presents the political voice of teachers as a global collective that seeks to embed teachers’ interests in education reform and in the public debates concerning the direction of educational change in the era of globalisation.  The paper concludes by outlining an ongoing issue that jeopardizes the collective voice of teachers and stresses how this needs to be further addressed in the ethical frameworks of what it means to be a teacher in the 21st century. 

Keywords:  teaching profession; ethics; unionism; and social movements 

Introduction:  Contextualising Teachers’ Identity

The evolution of teachers’ practice and professionalism has occurred through a negotiation of shared interests between demands of the Nation-State, civil society, and the teaching profession (Lawn, 1987).  However, the advent of globalisation presented significant shifts in educational reorganisation and subsequent teacher reforms.  In the era of globalisation, part of the reform movement has focused on quality education for all students, and most reform is framed in terms of better outcomes for students (A. Hargreaves & Evans, 1997). Strategies stressing achieving better student outcomes required that teachers’ work become more strongly aligned with practices focused on standardizing classroom practice, and implementing regimes of administration and regulatory accountability practices. These efforts attempted to generate the quality teacher and reproduce a set of professional practices thought to be more effective and efficient in achieving desired student outcomes.  An additional demand placed upon teachers was their subscription to ongoing learning designed to tailor their professional development according to the needs of students and their schools, perhaps at the expense of their own career plans and interests (Duan, 1997; A. Hargreaves & Evans, 1997; D. H. Hargreaves, 2000; Kaplan, 1996). 

In addition to the redesigning of teachers’ work practices, public perceptions about the teaching profession in the light of large-scale social and economic change have also impacted the way that the profession has sought to address the concerns of the community (Luke, 2004).  Responding to community demands about levels of professionalism and trust, that teachers should be this or that, the professionalism of teachers and of teaching came under scrutiny, generating public criticism that articulates concerns about perceived falling educational standards and teachers’ responsibility for declining standards in education (Luke, 2004). 

Global Response to Teachers’ Reform

The aforementioned public response and policy changes to teacher practice and teacher responsibility reflected a common pattern of national responses, government policies, and revision of teaching standards (Green, 1999). These template responses illustrated the advent of the globalisation of education, where concerns about harnessing the new global economy presented governments with a set of contemporary issues confronting teachers.  While there were localized differences in how the teaching profession responded to the emerging global economy, the aggregate experiences of teachers appear to have common themes (Vongalis, 2004). Much has been researched about the role of global agencies, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank and UNESCO, that assumed a greater governance role in redesigning education systems so that education systems dovetailed better with the knowledge demands of the global economy (OECD, 2000; Spring, 1998; UNESCO, 2000; WorldBank, 2000). These policies had deep implications for teachers and focused on changing teacher culture, professionalism, practice and unionism (OECD, 1998; Smyth & Shacklock, 1998). 

It may appear from this short discussion that teachers were a passive recipient of policy reshaping their practice and a marginalized stakeholder in educational reforms, considering the supra-national organisations directing educational change and influencing local education systems.  However, this is not the case.  A compensatory consequence of globalisation, the influence of supra-national educational stakeholders and subsequent educational reforms, has been the emergence of Education International.  This organisation came together in 1995 as a global affiliation of teachers’ unions and federations from around the world.  Currently, the organisation represents over 300 teachers’ unions from across the globe.  The organisation presents the collective, political voice of teachers as a social movement organisation that seeks to represent teachers and education reform in the public and social politics of globalisation and educational reforms (EducationInternational, 2002). 

This paper discusses the role of Education International in constructing the Professional Code of Ethics. By articulating an ethical component to teachers’ identity, Education International presented teachers with a political strategy to forge their collective interests in a changing education and social context. The focus of this paper, outlining key policy development instigated by Education International, intends to showcase the capacity for dynamic teacher response to globalisation and illustrate the underpinning political strategy involved in constructing a teachers’ code of ethics that maintains core beliefs about education and teaching. 

Education International:  A Brief Background

The emergence of Education International resulted from a merger between International Federation of Free Trade Unions, and World Federation of Teaching Professionals.  The merger occurred in 1995 in recognition of a new era in world organisations and world politics in which organisations could no longer focus on purely national concerns, as these were tied up with global movements. The emergence of supra-national organisations such as OECD, World Bank and IMF, saw these supra-figures as powerful players in steering social, economic and political reforms (Marginson, 1999; Sklair, 1997; Spring, 1998). 

In response to the emergence of global agencies in social policy development, the formation of Education International grew out of the recognition that teachers, as a professional class, had to confront new global social conditions. An interview with Sharan Burrow, the Vice President of Education International until July 2001, provides the historical backdrop that steered the teaching profession towards a global organisation. Burrow states,  

The convergence of International Federation of Free Trade Unions (IFFTU) and World Confederation of Teaching Professionals (WCOTP) in 1993, in Stockholm, came about as a result of the politics of 1989 and the reshaping of world politics. Prior to 1993, the ethos of organization centred on cold war politics. The Berlin Wall comes down; world politics reshaped . . . teachers have a common set of interests. Globalization was drawing the need for consensus around issues of school reform and mobility. The result was a harmonious and welcomed merger and in 1995 the first Congress of EI was held in Harare, Zimbabwe (Burrow, 2000, p. 265). 

Education International, as the teachers’ global representative body, aims to become a catalyst in global social policy in order to articulate and pursue the interests of teachers at the macro-level of policy construction. Education International holds World Congress meetings as a way to address the concerns of teachers in the global age. In doing so, the organisation has created a powerful supra-figure, able to influence education policies at the global level of policy discourse. The creation of a global union, Education International, specifically addressed teachers’ need for macro-representation at the global level of policy construction. It aims to “further the cause of organisations of teachers and education employees, to promote the status, interests, and welfare of their members, and to defend their trade union and professional rights” (EducationInternational, 2002). Education International tackles issues concerning teachers’ professionalism, opportunities to learn, education and social change in all areas of the globe. It represents teachers as a global, autonomous collective, made up of over 30 million, and maintains the “collective strength of teachers and education employees” (EducationalInternational, 2002). Currently, the web site states, 

Welcome to the official website of Education International, the federation of organisations representing over 30 million teachers and other education workers, through 384 member organisations in 169 countries and territories. As the Global Union representing education workers worldwide, Education International unifies all teachers and education workers. Be it a remote village or a cosmopolitan city, Education International promotes the rights of every teacher wherever they are, and the rights of every student they educate (EducationInternational, 2007). 

Every two years, Education International holds a World Congress, which gathers teachers and their representatives from across the globe. The Congress is a week-long meeting in which teachers participate in discussion and workshops, elect representatives, and respond to current issues. It is a forum for teachers to unite and help strategise professional responses to education, teaching, and social issues. Third World Congress, held in Jomtien (Thailand) in July 2001, addressed the theme of education in the global economy and invited teachers and their union representatives to share their ideas and opinions on a range of professional issues. The current paper refers to information from this Congress to discuss a key initiative and outcome of the Third World Congress, the Teachers’ Code of Ethics. 

Teacher Ethics

The movement to articulate and define what it means to be a teacher has political roots. As intimated previously, the teaching profession has evolved out of negotiations among demands of different stakeholders in education. A key stakeholder has been the teaching profession that has maintained control over professional knowledge, standards and practice through the formation of teaching unions (Ginsburg, 1995; Lawn, 1985). Much has been written about teacher unionism, and this paper focuses on current teacher union activity from Education International to illustrate the political strategy intended to deflect criticism of the profession that is somehow out of date and out of touch with educational strategizing. The Education International campaign presents an alternative vision of what it means to be a teacher in the 21st century and counters the overly critical discourse pursued in educational policy and filtering into public perception. 

The construction of a code of ethics for teachers can be seen as part of a global social movement, which represents a bipartisan and bilateral way for the teaching profession to reunite as a global epistemic community. Where once teachers’ negotiation was with governments and the state, the era of globalisation added another layer of educational stakeholders, namely supra-national agencies that made significant policy recommendations addressing how nations should reform education in the light of globalised economies (Marginson, 1999). Education International’s ethics project initiative came about as a direct response to the globalisation of education and the template of educational reforms which scrutinized and undermined the professionalism of teachers (Buenfil-Burgos, 2000; Giroux, 2000; Ozga, 1995). The Professional Code of Ethics, initiated by Education International in 2001, seeks to create solidarity amongst teachers across the globe, represents concerns of teachers from developed and developing countries, and ensures that the profession maintains political power in representing the voices of teachers in determining how the teaching profession develops into the 21st century. The Professional Code of Ethics, defined as a political tool, is part of a broader strategy to help teachers redefine and respond to public perception that their skills and knowledge were somehow inadequate. The Professional Code of Ethics provided the text for teachers that allowed them to respond to questions and problems, and to redefine relations with different stakeholders in education. 

This paper discusses the Professional Code of Ethics to show that constructing and articulating an ethical component to teachers’ identity presented teachers with a political strategy to articulate their interests in a changing education and social context, and in doing so, make progress towards reclaiming their authority in remaking their profession. Rather than using the language of policy infused with neo-liberal reconstruction of the social-economic context, Education International, through the construction of an ethical basis for teaching, provided a basis for teacher solidarity in the way that teachers could respond to globalised policy and help negotiate their professional identities as a global epistemic community. 

Global Federation of Teachers’ Unions: New Teacher Unionism

It is in the policies of OECD, UNESCO and World Bank, for example, that we see the global template of education emerging as these global agencies assume greater power in deciding upon what education should look like in the global era (Ozga, 2000; Spring, 1998; Vongalis, 2004; Zanten, 2000). For example, in OECD policy, the challenge issued to teachers was to break with the culture of the past in order to restore public faith in the profession as an asset, rather than as an obstacle, to change. What is meant by union obstacle? Consider the following: 

Colombia’s reforms in the early 1990s, which called for one of the most far-reaching decentralizations in Latin America, were blocked in part by the leading teachers’ union (FECODE), a highly organized and centralized union with more than 200,000 members. Government officials never managed to persuade FECODE. (Corrales, 1993, p. 23) 

Teachers’ unions of the past are associated with strikes and actions that blocked reforms. Union activity labeled as an obstacle to reform is not limited to developing nations. The Colombian experience, outlined in the above quotation, typifies the type of teachers’ militancy associated with teacher unionism that the OECD policy wishes to leave behind. Teachers’ involvement in social revolutions in Europe and Latin America has left a legacy of potential militancy that characterised a threat to government education reforms and cast suspicion on the collective action taken by teachers (Tedesco, 1995). By favouring teachers’ unions in the current context, Tedesco reassures his UNESCO policy readers that teacher militancy is a product of a by-gone era. UNESCO policy stresses that a new relationship has been formed with unions and that they are open to dialogue (UNESCO, 1996). UNESCO policy affirms cooperation with unions in ongoing dialogue, consultation and discussions among representatives of the public, authorities, and unions.  A new spirit of cooperation comes from the formation of partnerships in educational policy and practice (UNESCO, 1997). 

World Bank education policy addresses teacher unionism differently. Policy endorses the freedom of professional association and some form of collective bargaining and relies on union activity as a management tool for collective bargaining, ironing out working conditions, and negotiating incentives (Vongalis, 2003). The union provides a managerial unity of employees for more efficient administration and policy action. In this capacity, the role of the union and its representatives allows for participation in reform discussions and in matters of working conditions. These two areas of negotiation, reform and discussions about working conditions, constitute the basis of arbitration procedures. But this does not mean the acceptance of unions in a full, historical and political sense. Rather, the World Bank’s emphasis on including limited union representations is a way to overcome institutional blocks (Corrales, 1999). A World Bank-endorsed strategic report states, 

At the outset, it is argued that the political conditions for the adoption of quality-oriented education reforms remain unfavourable, despite a new impetus in favour of reform. Quality reforms produce concentrated costs and distributed benefits, leading to the rise of strong veto groups (e. g., teachers’ unions, bureaucrats and university students). Often, these veto groups are highly organized, resourceful and well connected to political parties, thereby magnifying their capacity to contest the reforms (Corrales, 1999, p. vii). 

Increasingly, unions become a way of managing employees when dealing with wages and benefits, policies, training and development, career and promotion. Interaction between employer and union becomes a form of administration underlying a pressure to fit in and adapt to the collective political and social values to those of the employer (Capelli, 1999). 

In OECD policy, the relationship between teachers and their trade unions suggests that far from losing control over their professional development, unions do have the interests of the profession in mind. The roles of unions are endorsed as long as their activities meet the agenda of the school and the sum of the teachers within it. The type of union activity approved in OECD policy is tied to the imperative of quality teaching and teacher training. A program run in Japan where the Japanese Teachers’ Union, in conjunction with industry, places teachers in industry experience for a three-day period over their holidays, is an example of endorsed union activity that aims to broaden the experience of teachers so that their teaching is better informed and more reflective of community expectations (CERI, 1998a). Policy from supra-national organisations suggests that there is room for teacher  unionism in the globalised era. Teachers’ unions are recognized as shaping teachers’ interests and representing a key stakeholder in how other educational stakeholders negotiate change. 

Professional Ethics: Global Union Response to Educational Change

Education International sought to extend the capacity of teachers’ representation in global policy, focusing on key beliefs that underpinned teachers’ unity. Maintaining quality public education, and making this ideal a keystone in any democratic society, is an example of a key belief underpinning Education International’s vision for educational reforms. Education International nominated teachers as the custodians of quality public education and set about outlining how teachers could commit, represent and assure the public’s faith in their professional judgments. Education International set about responding to the general deprofessionalisation and the undermining of the teaching progession, which were becoming key themes in education policies and policy rhetoric (CERI, 1998b; D. H. Hargreaves, 2000; Hartley, 1992). Echoing the opinions from teachers and their union representatives at the Education International Third World Congress in 2001, teacher unionism meant reaffirming the critical role of educators, which includes maintaining a social and political role for teachers, part of which is negotiating the political landscape and political interests pushing for educational reforms and new professionalism. For example, consider the views from Chilean and Gambian teachers and their representatives, as expressed at the Education International Third World Congress. They stated, 

Teachers and trade unions need to work together to promote an ideological framework in school and society as well. Teachers must play a political role in society (Education International Third World Congress, Chilean teachers’ union). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 254.) 

Gambia has a small and progressive organization. The union is strengthened through networks and alliances to share information. E.I. should take the lead and not be coerced. We teachers own education (Education International Third World Congress, Gambian teachers’ unions). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 254.) 

Teachers sought a renewed or transformed professional identity reflecting their full status in education systems. The quotations show that teachers’ interests are not only what happens in schools, but what happens in society. 

Salt, Cervero and Herod (2000) describe transformatory solidarity as the collective class action that seeks to change the structural premises of globalisation as a neo-liberal pattern of social reform. Education International provides a basis for congregating teachers’ interests and fostering teachers’ transformatory solidarity based on the shared beliefs of free education, equality of opportunity, international support, and teachers’ actions that extend into social and education politics. For example, a number of delegates at the Third World Congress spoke of similar beliefs (Vongalis, 2003, p. 254): 

Education should be free, compulsory and based on equality (French teachers’ union). 

Tolerance and equality are key principles to shape human values and shape human beings for social life (Polish teachers’ union). 

In Nepal there is a widening gap between rich and poor, lack of opportunity (Nepalese teachers’ union). 

Teachers are arbiters of change, have clear roles and responsibility, fight to achieve economic levels and conditions. Colleagues have to fight for conditions, to shift focus of demands to human aspects of globalisation and highlight the educational role of teachers (Chilean teachers’ union). 

There is a need to stop private schools and to mobilize teachers’ unions to strongly object to the privatization of education (Nepalese teachers’ union).  

What emerge from such quotations are demands for greater teacher control in how the profession develops and reframes itself. The Code of Professional Ethics addresses these concerns from teachers representing both developing and developed nations. 

A Theoretical Basis for Code of Ethics

Teaching does make moral demands on the teacher, specifically evident in teachers’ relationships with a number of stakeholders (Sockett, 1993). Perhaps the ethical component of teachers’ work is most evident in teachers’ responsibility to ensure the safety of their students, inclusive of both physical and emotional safety. The central thesis about the ethical claims of teaching concern the causal relationship between the moral claims of teachers and the influences on their students. For Sockett, the concept of professional virtue underpins the development of the profession. If taken further, the virtue extends into teachers’ dealings with their communities, the demands for accountability, the knowledge base for teaching, and finally, teachers’ ideals about the value of education. However, rather than putting the onus on individual teachers to use an ethical basis to inform their practice, ethics can form the basis of collective values and behaviours. According to Abbott (1983), the five basic properties of professional ethics include universal distribution, enforceable visibility, allowance for individuality, collegial obligations, and alignment with recognized status. Abbott also adds that both intra- and extra-professional status need to be taken into account when forging professional ethics. These properties present the basis for a collective agreement about teachers’ ethical obligations. Rather than promoting ethical teaching as a personal obligation and preference, ethical deliberations, taking into account the types of properties suggested by Abbott, become part of the negotiations in defining the profession. 

Considering the potential for disunity, when considering the vast differences in teachers’ conditions, preferences, and ethical interpretations that may occur, considering the differing context of education across the globe, a unified response from the profession is timely. Abbott is suggesting a systematic approach to articulating the common ground, which can be seen as a strategy for universalizing professional understandings of ethics in teaching. 

A Practical Strategy for Code of Ethics

A concerted effort to reclaim professional authority and automomy is pursued by Education International through the Professional Code of Ethics. The code is specifically designed to clarify and identify the teaching profession across a range of social and economic contexts. According to Education International, the Code of Ethics is 

a tool to assist teachers and education personnel when questions of professional behavior and ethics arise. The discussion of ethical questions be on-going among educators since it is too late to start the debate when a problem surfaces. No code can cover every eventuality and this one is no different. It is however intended to be of assistance to educators addressing relations with the different stakeholders in education (Extract from Agenda 11 Draft International Code of Ethics, Section I, DOC: E11). (EducationInternational, 2002.) 

The Professional Code of Ethics makes universal claims insofar as they construct a set of uniform guidelines for teachers that articulate what it means to be a teacher in the current context. In making these claims, attention is given both to external demands, for example, the demands of different stakeholders, and to internal demands, such as the need for ongoing conversations about what it means to be a teacher. The ethical guidelines aim to unpack the notion of ethical behaviour and move towards greater transparency in making visible professional obligations. 

The teaching profession may benefit greatly from a discussion about the core values of the profession. Such raising of consciousness about the norms and ethics of the profession may contribute to increasing job satisfaction among teachers and education personnel, to enhancing their status and self-esteem, and to increasing respect for the profession in society (EducationInternational, 2004). 

The Code of Ethics outlines six key commitments:  commitment to the profession, commitment to students, commitment to colleagues, commitment to management personnel, commitment to parents, and finally, the community’s commitment to its teachers. The teacher is represented as a principled figure, entrusted with moral authority, able to make sense of change, and in doing so, can help students to make sense of change. The Code of Ethics stresses the public duties and moral commitment of teachers as public employees entrusted by society. This trust requires teachers to adhere to a moral code of conduct where true professionalism is guided by high ethical standards. Finally, the Code addresses teachers’ social agency and political commitment. Thus, there are explicit clauses requiring teachers to combat racism and discrimination. The ethical guidelines are firmly aligned to International Labour Organization (ILO, 1996) principles outlining working conditions that include core values such as job satisfaction and unity through the increased esteem of the profession (EducationInternational, 2002). Britzman (2000) encapsulates this participation by stating that,  

If teacher education is to join the world, be affected by its participation in world making, and question the ‘goodness’ of its own passions, we must rethink not only past practices and what goes under the name of professionalism, but also the very imagination it will take to exceed compliance, fear controversy, and ‘unclaimed’ experiences (Britzman, p, 204). 

The articulation of a Code of Ethics to universalize and articulate the basic premise of teachers’ identity and practice shows that there is a strategic role for Education International to organize the reconstruction of professional ethics and take leadership in framing how teachers can reclaim control of their professional evolution. Education International has the capacity to universalize professional understandings and help forge solidarity amongst disparate teachers’ groups. 

Intra-Professional Issues

While the universality of the Code of Ethics seeks to present a united front in terms of what it means to be a teacher, there are outstanding intra-professional issues that also need further debate within the profession. As intimated earlier, Abbott (1983) constituted professionalism as having both internal and external dimensions. The previous discussion has outlined the role for Education International in constructing an ethical framework through which the profession can be identified by other stakeholders. However, the internal dimensions of professional ethics also need further attention. If solidarity is defined as a shared culture, as “a set of shared premises and practices” (Wallerstein, 1999, p. 3), then the shared ideas and values refer to internal bonds among members. 

There is an outstanding issue that is integral to the teaching profession and one that is crucial to creating global solidarity. Teachers at the Education International Third World Congress identified gender as a critical area of concern relevant to educating in the global economy (Vongalis, 2004). Gender issues were raised not only about the way girls’ and boys’ education is differentiated in many countries, but also with regards to the feminization of the teaching profession and the effect on work and practices in the global age. The next section discusses how issues of gender impinge on solidarity and teachers’ capacity to stand united in their response to globalisation and education reforms. 

While professional solidarity synthesizes relations among the teaching fraternity around the world, social change and educational change are dependent on collective action and the shared premises upon which action is based (Hopkins, Wallerstein & Casparis, 1996; Wallerstein, 1999).  Wallerstein states that cultural phenomena are created socially and thus re-created socially: 

One way to fight against loss of liberty and equality . . . is to create and re-create particular cultural entities . . .that would be social—not individual, that would be particularisms whose object would be the restoration of the universal reality of liberty and equality (Wallerstein, 1991, p. 224). 

While the Code of Ethics represents a step forward for teacher solidarity, there are internal divisions among teachers. Wallerstein (1991) suggests that cultural practices and the shared premises of the cultural attributes of these practices are often shared subconsciously between classes and thus elude discussion. The experiences of teachers at the Education International Third World Congress reveal that gender issues pose a threat to solidarity in teacher relations. The disparate experiences of male and female teachers in many countries necessitate a review of the shared premises of solidarity in order to clarify and make certain a global solidarity. 

The feminisation of the teaching force is akin to the “stereotyping of the profession as doing reproductive work associated with women,” said teachers from the Asia Pacific Region. Teachers from the Philippines elaborated: 

The overriding negative is the stereotyping of the profession as a nurturing/caring profession which leads to lower salary and lower income. The way that gender equates to lower income and status needs to be redressed. The social status of women and girls must be improved. There is a call for gender sensitive education; strengthening of women’s committees and participation in all levels of decision making and planning (Education International Third World Congress, Philippines teachers’ union). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 154.) 

Stereotyping the profession as doing reproductive work, focused on a caring and nurturing role, is detrimental to all teachers. In this situation, teachers are not teaching experts of disciplinary authorities, but instead become care-givers, which impacts on their status and has further implications for working conditions and wages. For example, teachers from Ecuador explained how the salaries of teachers have dropped, as has their social standing. They stated that more and more teachers are using teaching as a part-time job because of its poor security and wages; as a result, women teachers use teaching to supplement other work and mother duties. The result is an increase in job-sharing, where three teachers may share two jobs. The net effect on the profession is negative in that it diminishes teaching as well paid and rewarding with prospects for promotion and security. These effects influence both men and women staying on in teaching, as well as diminishing the attractiveness of the profession for future teachers. 

The women’s caucus at the Education International World Congress voiced opinions that males can be blind to the plight of women or see gender issues as unimportant. Ultimately, this leads to sectarian thinking because, in being blind to intra-class differences, the impacts of different shared premises may impinge on building stronger solidarity and an autonomous, authoritative profession. Within the teaching class, women teachers are saying that the reality for female teachers is markedly different to that of male teachers. One example is the lack of female teachers in leadership positions: 

There is a feminization of the profession at all levels but this is not reflected in higher education and post secondary education (Education International Third World Congress, Caribbean-North American Region teachers’ union). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 255.) 

In the light of the deteriorating conditions for women and the perception that teaching presents different opportunities for men and women, Education International continues to modernize relations between the genders. The first step is to make conscious the fact that gender equality is still an important issue not only for females, but also for males in the profession. To create solidarity between the genders, the struggle faced by women teachers becomes part of the greater social struggle to achieve equality, inclusion, and opportunity for all members of society, irrespective of class and gender. 

There are social an cultural obstacles to overcome with respect to gender equality. The position of women in society is low e. g. the practice of genital mutilation as a practice needs to be fought. There is a displacement of the family and this has had a negative effect on women (Education International Third World Congress, African Region teachers’ unions). 

There is a need to modernize societies and this includes the political life of women (Education International Third World Congress, African Region teachers’ unions). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 256.) 

Furthermore, Education International is proactive in addressing the need for more leadership training for women. European teachers called for more confidence-building training for teachers, as the lack of confidence rather than ability is seen as a key factor in hampering women’s entry into higher positions. European teachers’ unions want 

Education International to respond to their needs i. e. through training activity to build confidence in women and inclusive activity with men. There needs to be cooperation for development and the devising of new models which allow for gender analysis as well as means to analyze and evaluate such programs (Education International Third World Congress, European teachers’ unions). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 254.) 

The European region calls for Education International to extend training for women to build leadership and confidence. In addition, they call for greater analysis to devise new programs for women in leadership. The Latin American teachers concur: 

. . .neo-liberal policies that have destroyed social and education conditions e. g. the increase in illiteracy rates amongst women and girls. In teaching profession 95% promotions to men and 67% of secondary teachers are men, therefore the higher paid jobs go to men. Teachers reproduce cultural inequalities and therefore deprive the world of women’s activity. Call for coordinating body of women educators and a revoking of World Bank health and education policies. (Vongalis, 2003, p. 256.) 

In Morocco, women’s access to higher levels of education and qualification is an issue. They stated that, 

Education should not stop at literacy but more emphasis is needed on higher education, especially of women so they have the ability to influence decision-making about education policy and its relation to the status of women (Education International Third World Congress, Moroccan teachers’ union). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 257.) 

Education International is aiming to implement programs for more leadership training for women, more union seminars and learning opportunities, and social activism to address health issues such as AIDS that have impacted on women and families. 

Recommendations to increase gender awareness, to influence the curriculum and make opportunity more accessible.  Provide safety net for children and teachers and ensure a higher allocation of resources to education and health (Education International Third World Congress, Asia Pacific Region teachers’ unions). (Vongalis, 2003, p. 260.) 

By making conscious the problems that cause discord in the shared premise that constructs teachers’ class identity and solidarity, the construction of a global class means the gender politics of the collective require concerted attention and proactive policy action. The capacity of a social class such as teachers to struggle against discrimination and exclusion, whether social, economic, or gender, depends on forging a new solidarity, not only between national and international relations, but also within the internal relations and their premise of what binds them as a class. In the words of Bill Jorday, speaking at the Education International Third World Congress, to harness the full power of the collective, to challenge corporate agendas and the erosion of education as a human right and education as a public good, teachers must “change themselves and use education as a power, weapon and for greater intelligence” (Jordan, 2001). 


The construction of a Professional Code of Ethics is a policy movement fuelling solidarity towards greater integration and the interdependency of  teachers worldwide. It answers the challenge for teachers’ unions to move forward and outward into global and local communities in search of the common good that addresses social and education needs for all. By articulating who teachers are in this global age and what they stand for, teachers are strengthening their ability to make a more significant contribution to education reform. 

The professional guidelines exemplify the professionalism, honour, and highest social commitment demanded of teachers by the public and responds to the decline of public confidence in teachers and their professional judgments by making policy about what a teacher is, and can do, in the global age. In other words, the Code of Ethics forms the beginnings of defining teachers’ identity, according to teachers. 

The Code of Ethics therefore needs to be constructed as a powerful statement about teacher identity that addresses issues of gender and representation that confront the profession. By reaching out to global organisations that have used teacher ethics as a way to unite the profession at the global level, local organisations can align themselves to powerful coalitions that give greater capacity for teachers to empower their own profession and be a force in determining what it means to be a teacher in the new century.


Abbott. A. (1983). Professional ethics. American Journal of Sociology 88 (5), 855-885.

Britzman, D. P. (2000). Teacher education in the confusion of our times. Journal of Teacher education, 51 (3), 200-205. 

Buenfil-Burgos, R. N. (2000). Globalization, education and discourse political analysis: Ambiguity and accountability in research. Qualitative Studies in Education 13 (1), 1-24. 

Burrow, S. (2000). Personal interview: Discussion about Education International and globalization. In A. Vongalis (Ed.), Melbourne: unpublished. 

Capelli, P. (1999). Career jobs are dead. Californian Management Review 42 (1), 146-167. 

CERI. (1998a). Education policy analysis (Report). Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

CERI. (1998b). Staying ahead: In-service training and teacher professional development. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Corrales, J. (1999). The politics of education reform: Bolstering the supply and demand; overcoming institutional blocks. Vol. II, No. 1. Retrieved May 2001, from http://www1.worldbank.org/education/globaleducationreform/corrales.pdf. 

Duan, H. (1997). National forces, globalization and educational restructuring: Some European response patterns. Compare 27, (1), 19-42. 

EducationInternational. (2002). Education International. Retrieved September, 2002, from http://www.ei-ie.org/main/english/index.html. 

EducationInternational. (2004). EI declaration on professional ethics. Education International Policy Resolutions. Retrieved June 2007, from http://www.ei-ie.org/worldcongress/docs/WC)4Res_DeclarationProfEthics_e.pdf. 

Education International. (2007). EI declaration on professional ethics. Retrieved April 23, 2007, from http://www.ei-ie.org/annualreport/ei-ie/wc4/uk/resolutions01.html. 

Ginsburg, M. (1995). The politics of educators’ work and lives (Vol. 1). New York: Garland Publishing Inc. 

Giroux, H. A. (2000). Public pedagogy as cultural politics: Stuart Hall and the ‘crisis’ of culture.  Cultural Studies, 14 (2), 341-360. 

Green, A. (1999).  Education and globalization in Europe and East Asia: Convergent and divergent trends. Journal of Education Policy, 14 (1), 55-71. 

Hargreaves, A. & Evans, R. (Eds.). (1997).  Beyond educational reform. Buckingham: Open University Press. 

Hargreaves, D. H. (2000). The production, mediation and use of professional knowledge among teachers and doctors: A comparative analysis.  Paris: OECD. 

Hartley, D. (1992). Teacher appraisal: A policy analysis.  Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press. 

Hopkins, T. K., Wallerstein, I., & Casparis, J. (Eds.). (1996).  The age of transition: Trajectory of the world-system 1945-2005.  London: London Atlantic Highlands; New Jersey: Zed Books; Leichhardt, NSW, Australia: Pluto Press. 

International Labour Organization (ILO). (1996). Participation in educational decision-making: Enhancing the teacher’s role in educational reform.  Paper presented at the International Conference on Education, 45th session, Paris. September 30 – October 5, 1996. 

Jordan, B. (2001, 25 July). Paper presented at the Education International 3rd World Congress, Jomtein, Thailand. 

Kaplan, L. (1996). Teachers for the new millennium. California: Corwin Press Inc. 

Lawn, M. (1985). The politics of teacher unionism: International perspectives. London, Dover NH: Croom Helm. 

Lawn, M. (1987). Teachers: The culture and politics of work. London: The Falmer Press. 

Luke, A. (2004). Teaching after the market: From commodity to cosmopolitan. Teachers College Record, 106 (7), 1442-1443. 

Marginson, S. (1999). After globalisation: Emerging politics of education. Journal of Educational Policy, 14 (1), 19-31. 

OECD. (1998). Education at a glance:  Analysis (indicators of education systems).  Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

OECD. (2000). Education at a glance.  (Centre for Educational Research and Innovation Indicators of Education Systems). Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Ozga, J. (1995). Deskilling a profession: Professionalism, deprofessionalisation and the new managerialism.  In H. Busher & R. Saran (Eds.), Managing teachers as professionals in schools. London: Kogan Page Limited. 

Ozga, J. (2000). Policy research in educational settings: Contested terrain.  Buckingham: Open University Press. 

Salt, B., Cervero, R. M. & Herod, A. (2000). Workers’ education and neoliberal globalization: An adequate response to transnational corporations?  Adult Education Quarterly, 51 (1). 

Sklair, L. (1997). Social movements for global capitalism: The transnational capitalist class in action.  Review of International Political Economy, 4 (3), 514-518. 

Smyth, J. & Shacklock, G. (1998). Remaking teaching. London: Routledge. 

Sockett, H. (1993). The moral base for teacher professionalism. New York: Teachers College Press. 

Spring, J. (1998). Education and the rise of the global economy. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. 

Tedesco, J. C. (1995). The new educational pact. Paris: UNESCO, International Bureau of Education. 

UNESCO. (1996). Strengthening the role of teachers in a changing world: Issues, prospects and priorities. (Forth-fifth session International Conference No. ED/BIE/CONFINTED 45/3). Geneva: UNESCO. 

UNESCO. (1997). In-service teacher training: Rights and obligations in a changing society. Information for the Educational Press, 1-4. 

UNESCO. (2000). UNESCO in a globalizing world. (Provisional Agenda Item No. 159 EX/40). Paris: UNESCO. 

Vongalis, A. (2003). Deployed to deliver: The displaced agency of teachers in globalised education systems.  Melbourne: Monash University. 

Vongalis, A. (2004). Global education policy directives: Impact on teachers from the north and south. International Education Journal, 5 (4), 488-501. 

Wallerstein, I. (1991). Geopolitics and geoculture: Essays on the changing world-system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Paris: Editions de la Maison  des Sciences de l’Homme. 

Wallerstein, I. (1999). The heritage of sociology: The promise of social science.  Current Sociology, 47 (1), 1-37. 

WorldBank. (2000). What are ‘effective schools and teachers’? Why do they matter? Retrieved February, 2001 from http://www1.worldbank.org/education/est/ 

Zanten, A. V. (2000). ‘Plus ça change . . .?’ Changes and continuities in education policy in France. Journal of Education Policy, 15 (1), 1-4.