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Home -- VIII. The rights and responsibilities of teachers

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Professional freedom

The teaching profession should enjoy academic freedom in the discharge of professional duties. Since teachers are particularly qualified to judge the teaching aids and methods most suitable for their pupils, they should be given the essential role in the choice and the adaptation of teaching material, the selection of textbooks and the application of teaching methods, within the framework of approved programmes, and with the assistance of the educational authorities.

Teachers and their organizations should participate in the development of new courses, textbooks and teaching aids.

Any systems of inspection or supervision should be designed to encourage and help teachers in the performance of their professional tasks and should be such as not to diminish the freedom, initiative and responsibility of teachers.

Where any kind of direct assessment of the teacher's work is required, such assessment should be objective and should be made known to the teacher.
Teachers should have a right to appeal against assessments which they deem to be unjustified.

Teachers should be free to make use of such evaluation techniques as they may deem useful for the appraisal of pupils' progress, but should ensure that no unfairness to individual pupils results.

The authorities should give due weight to the recommendations of teachers regarding the suitability of individual pupils for courses and further education of different kinds.

Every possible effort should be made to promote close co-operation between teachers and parents in the interests of pupils, but teachers should be protected against unfair or unwarranted interference by parents in matters which are essentially the teacher's professional responsibility.

Parents having a complaint against a school or a teacher should be given the opportunity of discussing it in the first instance with the school principal and the teacher concerned. Any complaint subsequently addressed to higher authority should be put in writing and a copy should be supplied to the teacher.
Investigations of complaints should be so conducted that the teachers are given a fair opportunity to defend themselves and that no publicity is given to the proceedings.

While teachers should exercise the utmost care to avoid accidents to pupils, employers of teachers should safeguard them against the risk of having damages assessed against them in the event of injury to pupils occurring at school or in school activities away from the school premises or grounds.

Responsibilities of teachers

Recognizing that the status of their profession depends to a considerable extent upon teachers themselves, all teachers should seek to achieve the highest possible standards in all their professional work.

Professional standards relating to teacher performance should be defined and maintained with the participation of the teachers' organizations.

Teachers and teachers' organizations should seek to co-operate fully with authorities in the interests of the pupils, of the education service and of society generally.

Codes of ethics or of conduct should be established by the teachers' organizations, since such codes greatly contribute to ensuring the prestige of the profession and the exercise of professional duties in accordance with agreed principles.

Teachers should be prepared to take their part in extra-curricular activities for the benefit of pupils and adults.

Relations between teachers and the education service as a whole

In order that teachers may discharge their responsibilities, authorities should establish and regularly use recognized means of consultation with teachers' organizations on such matters as educational policy, school organization, and new developments in the education service.

Authorities and teachers should recognize the importance of the participation of teachers, through their organizations and in other ways, in steps designed to improve the quality of the education service, in educational research, and in the development and dissemination of new improved methods.

Authorities should facilitate the establishment and the work of panels designed, within a school or within a broader framework, to promote the co-operation of teachers of the same subject and should take due account of the opinions and suggestions of such panels.

Administrative and other staff who are responsible for aspects of the education service should seek to establish good reldtions with teachers and this approach should be equally reciprocated.

Rights of teachers

The participation of teachers in social and public life should be encouraged in the interests of the teacher's personal development, of the education service and of society as a whole.

Teachers should be free to exercise all civic rights generally enjoyed by citizens and should be eligible for public office.

Where the requirements of public office are such that the teacher has to relinquish his teaching duties, he should be retained in the profession for seniority and pension purposes and should be able to return to his previous post or to an equivalent post after his term of public office has expired.

Both salaries and working conditions for teachers should be determined through the process of negotiation between teachers' organizations and the employers of teachers.

Statutory or voluntary machinery should be established whereby the right of teachers to negotiate through their organizations with their employers, either public or private, is assured.

Appropriate joint machinery should be set up to deal with the settlement of disputes between the teachers and their employers arising out of terms and conditions of employment. If the means and procedures established for these purposes should be exhausted or if there should be a breakdown in negotiations between the parties, teachers' organizations should have the right to take such other steps as are normally open to other organizations in the defence of their legitimate interests.

 ID: 6138 | guest (Read) 2002 - UNESCO - Contact