Promoting ethics in universities

23 April 2012
Morocco initiates the design of an ethics charter

Within a context of profound political and social transformations in the Arab region, the University Mohammed V - Souissi in Rabat (Morocco) recently initiated the design of a charter on ethics, “the most important values of which should permeate all university actors”. In support of this initiative, the Faculty of Educational Sciences decided to devote its Second Forum on Active Citizenship to "Ethics in Universities of Morocco", on 28–29 March 2012.

The event was inaugurated by Mr Radouane Mrabet, President of the University and Mr Abdesselam El Ouazzani, Dean of the Faculty of Educational Sciences. The debates focused mainly on the importance of ethical values in a context of political, social, and cultural change; on the position of the Moroccan university community concerning the issue; and on the role of universities in strengthening an ethical culture.

The President stressed the need to promote the role of Universities as "a place of consolidation and defence of values" in a context of economic, political, and social crisis. He described the early stages of development of an ethical charter, with the establishment of an ad-hoc committee on which key University stakeholders are represented.

Invited by the University, IIEP staff explained in detail the prerequisites for an effective application of ethical charts, founded on the key findings of its research on teacher codes of conduct. The Institute advocated for the involvement of both faculty and students at each stage of the charter’s development, and for the implementation of indispensable mechanisms to ensure its enforcement, such as creating an "ethical watch", dealing with complaints, training the actors, etc. Reference was made to ongoing initiatives in various universities, notably in Europe (Geneva) and North America (Ontario).

The discussions that followed the presentations were very lively, especially concerning the distinction between ethics and morals; the determination of the values with which the Moroccan academic community currently identifies; the definition of the legal status of ethical charters in light of existing regulations; the integration of ethical issues into certain university programmes; and the setting up of joint consultative mechanisms on these themes.

In conclusion, the Dean of the Faculty indicated his willingness to hold another Forum next year, in order to make a first assessment of the experience of the University in its elaboration of an ethical charter.