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UNESCO OER Recommendation: One Step Closer to Adoption

Mar, 2019-06-04 16:14
Photo by Ryan Merkley. CC BY 4.0

The global open education community works collectively to create a world in which everyone has universal access to effective open education resources (OER) and meaningful learning opportunities as defined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #4 (SDG4): Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. UNESCO continues to work with national governments to help them better support open education (content, practices, policy) in their countries. CC is an active leader and contributor to this work, alongside our many partners.

On May 28, 2019, UNESCO member state representatives took an important step for open education by adopting the 2019 UNESCO OER Recommendation, providing unanimous approval to bring it to the next General Conference. UNESCO has a strong history in open education, having coined the term OER in 2002, passed the 2012 Paris OER Declaration, and co-hosted (with Slovenia) the 2017 OER Global Congress.

Member states and observer organizations, including CC, provided multiple edits including: improved OER and open license definitions; calling on member states to support the linguistic translation of open licenses; adopting high standards for privacy in OER, platforms, and services; and a call to facilitate open procurement. The final text of the document, with all of the approved edits, will now be created by UNESCO and will be published (TBD) prior to the UNESCO 40th General Conference in November. We expect the OER Recommendation to be approved and adopted by UNESCO member states at that time.

This new UNESCO OER Recommendation presents an historic opportunity for Creative Commons (CC) and others in the open education community to work with national governments to help them understand and implement model open education recommendations in their countries. CC and our international chapters will actively support national governments as they leverage this opportunity to meet the SDG4 goals.

Photo by Ryan Merkley CC BY 4.0

CC sent Diane Peters (General Counsel) and Ryan Merkley (CEO) to the meeting to work with delegates and provide expert advice, and we are pleased with the outcome. CC, the UNESCO OER Chairs, IFLA, Education International, and OEC were among the non-governmental organizations who made multiple contributions to and collaborated on the draft OER Recommendation.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in this long process of drafting the document, revising and improving it, and educating each nation’s UNESCO delegates. Special thanks goes to:

  • Trudi Van Wyk (Chair) and Zeynep Varoglu (UNESCO Secretariat) who were present for every line-by-line edit, carefully reviewed each proposal to understand its purpose and impact, and gracefully guided UNESCO member states to a consensus “yes” vote.
  • The Slovenian Delegation who hosted the Second World OER Congress and worked on this OER Recommendation tirelessly for the past two years.
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their ongoing support of open education at UNESCO and around the world.

We will share more information as it becomes available via our blog, social media, and the CC Open Education Platform.

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