Society & Sustainability

“Do No Harm”: Is it Time for a Hippocratic Oath in Education?

One of the most striking effects of the global pandemic is how millions of people have faced moral dilemmas. Choices over education is a case in point.

The education sector often looks to the health sector for ideas, inspired by its success in global mobilization and reaching consensus on sophisticated metrics. What has received less explicit attention in education are guiding principles in health, notably the imperative to “do no harm”. This principle implies that no plan or programme can be put in place if it risks actively harming anyone at all.  While this has been adopted as a guiding principle by the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies, it plays little role in mainstream education debates. But should it? What would it mean?

The health and education crisis caused by Covid–19 puts a spotlight on this issue that offers lessons that will remain relevant long after.

In health, the do no harm principle means that the process for developing and approving a vaccine can only be sped up so much, no matter how desperate and impatient we are for it. We cannot risk cutting corners only to find out later that the vaccine is actually harmful, for instance. Similarly, even when health workers are urgently needed, those among them suspected of being infected are told not to come to work.

Read the full story from the Global Education Monitor Report.

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