Official UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources moves one step further

published 17 June 2019 updated 21 June 2019

Education International welcomes UNESCO global commitment to advancing access to works for teaching and learning through expanding access to quality and locally relevant open educational resources.

EI welcomed the progress at the intergovernmental meeting of experts to examine a UNESCO draft Recommendation concerning Open Educational Resources (OER) held from 27-28 May in Paris, France.

EI General Secretary David Edwards said, “an UNESCO OER Recommendation is great news, as it can pave the way to increased access to teaching and learning materials, as well as more open ways of working and collaborating within and beyond education institutions. As an official UNESCO instrument, the recommendation will provide national governments with advice on OER policies and practices and ask countries to report on their efforts and progress.”

The Paris intergovernmental meeting brought together government delegates, experts from the education and library sectors as well as open education advocates. The role of OER in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 was a central focus for discussions. The UNESCO’s Education 2030 Framework for Action repeatedly stresses that qualified and trained teachers need to have access to appropriate “books, other learning materials and open educational resources”.

The recommendation advocates global investment in five areas supporting OER: (1) capacity building, (2) developing supportive policy, (3) ensuring inclusive and equitable access to quality OER, (4) sustainability models for OER, and (5) international cooperation.

Education International (EI) took part in successive stages of the development of the recommendation and emphasised that OER has the potential to enable teachers to exercise their academic freedom and professional autonomy in choosing and/ or adapting teaching materials. At the same time, EI stressed that it will be important to consult education unions in the development and implementation of OER policies, including for quality assurance, continuous professional development, adequate public financing  and other professional matters. The meeting recognised the importance of having good copyright exceptions for education purposes to facilitate  the  creation and use of open educational resources. It also noted that it would be crucial to ensure the highest standards of data protection and privacy for OER and related services.

The current text was debated and finally adopted. It will now be moved for the purpose of adoption at the next UNESCO General Conference in November 2019.

The initiative to develop an official Recommendation grew out of the 2nd World OER Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It followed the adoption of the Ljubljana OER Action Plan 2017 calling for increased international collaboration on this topic.