Ministers, experts urge inclusive access and quality education through open educational resources

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L to R: Indrajit Banerjee, the Ministers Maja Makovec Brencic of Slovenia and Evarist Bartolo of Malta
© UNESCO
24 February 2017

On 23 February, ministers, policy makers and experts from 26 countries took part in the opening of the European Regional Consultation on Open Educational Resources (OER), held in Malta from 23 to 24 February.

In her keynote address, H.E. Dr Maja Makovec Brencic, Minister for Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia, highlighted that “OER have a central role to play in the Education 2030 Agenda and particularly in the framework of SDG4 (Inclusive and Quality Education). Slovenia recognizes that governments have a key fundamental responsibility for successfully implementing the 2030 Agenda.” She noted that “the Education 2030 Agenda reaffirms a political commitment to establish legal and policy frameworks. It entrusts UNESCO to lead and coordinate the 2030 Education Agenda by undertaking advocacy to sustain political commitment, facilitating policy dialogue, knowledge sharing and standard setting.”

For his part, H.E. Mr Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment of Malta, urged new pedagogies that meet the individual needs of each student, leveraging ICT and Open Educational Resources for achieving quality education outcomes.

The meeting is the second of six regional consultations organized in the lead up to the 2nd World OER Congress, to be hosted in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from 18 to 20 September. The World OER Congress will mark 15 years since the term “Open Educational Resources” was first coined at UNESCO and five years since the inaugural World OER Congress took place at UNESCO Headquarters, resulting in the 2012 Paris OER Declaration.

“OER” refer to any educational materials made available by authors and institutions under an open-license to freely use and adapt for teaching, learning and research purposes. In all regions of the world, the growth of OER initiatives and policies supports the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 by providing quality, affordable educational materials adaptable to the broadest range of teaching and learning needs.

To date, OER Surveys have been received from 55 Member States, including 22 African countries, according to Asha Kanwar, president and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, the organizer of the regional consultations. Preliminary findings suggest that 26 report that OER-related policies exist at national level, while slightly more than half reported that national OER strategies were under development.

Representing UNESCO, Indrajit Banerjee, Director of the Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, said that the next World OER Congress must be a step forward toward improving capacity, language and cultural relevance, and assuring inclusive and equitable access to quality OER. He stressed the need to develop supportive policy environments, and catalytic “ecosystems” that place OER at their centre. He underscored that the “larger challenge is to open up education itself.”

The 2nd World OER Congress in Ljubljana will address three central objectives in support of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:

  • Examine solutions to meeting the challenges of mainstreaming OER practices in education systems worldwide;
  • Showcase the world´s best practices in OER policies, initiatives and experts;
  • Provide recommendations for the mainstreaming of OER with links to best practices.

The Congress will build on the outcomes of six OER regional consultations hosted in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Valletta (Malta), Doha (Qatar), Port Louis (Mauritius), Sao Paolo (Brazil) and Auckland (New Zealand), organized by the Commonwealth of Learning.