We Support the UNESCO Recommendation on OER

Cable GreenJennryn Wetzler

As part of the drafting committee, Creative Commons (CC) fully supports the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) on which the member states will vote at the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference in November. We laud the multitude of national governments and open education experts engaged in the development of this international agreement. We look forward to collaborating with these governments and our NGO colleagues in the coming months and years to help Ministries/Departments of Education implement this Recommendation. 

The UNESCO Recommendation on OER* sets out a transformative vision of open education, contributing to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Below are the five objectives from the draft Recommendation. You can also view the entire document here.

1. Capacity building: developing the capacity of all key education stakeholders to create, access, use, adapt, and redistribute OER, as well as to use and apply open licenses in a manner consistent with national copyright legislation and international obligations;

2. Developing supportive policy: encouraging governments, and education authorities and institutions to adopt regulatory frameworks to support open licensing of publicly funded educational materials, develop strategies to enable use and adaptation of OER in support of high quality, inclusive education and lifelong learning for all, and adopt integrated mechanisms to recognize the learning outcomes of OER-based programmes of study;

3. Effective inclusive and equitable access to quality OER: supporting the adoption of strategies and programmes, including through relevant technology solutions that ensure OER in any medium are shared in open formats and standards to maximize equitable access, co-creation, curation, and search ability, including for those from vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities;

4. Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER: supporting and encouraging the creation of sustainability models for OER at national and institutional levels, and the planning and pilot test of new sustainable forms of education and learning;

5. Facilitating international cooperation: supporting international cooperation between stakeholders to minimize unnecessary duplication in OER development investments and to develop a global pool of culturally diverse, locally relevant, gender-sensitive, accessible, educational materials in multiple languages.

Here’s a brief timeline of the efforts leading up to the UNESCO Recommendation on OER and CC’s continued engagement:

  • 2019: Member states and observer organizations, including Creative Commons, provided multiple edits to the Recommendation draft including an improved open license definition; 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.
  • 2017: The 2nd World Congress unanimously adopted the 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan. The Congress hosted 30 ministers of education and participants from over 100 countries, with the goal of mainstreaming open education to meet the education targets in the United Nations SDG4.
  • 2015: UNESCO announced a new Open Access Repository making more than 300 digital reports, books, and articles available to the world under CC licenses, in line with the 2013 UNESCO Open Access Policy.
  • 2012: The groundwork for the current OER Recommendation was laid in the 2012 Paris OER Declaration.

In partnership with our open education colleagues, CC will provide a suite of professional development, policy, networking, and consulting services to national governments as they engage in national and regional efforts to implement the UNESCO OER Recommendation in 2020. Stay tuned!

*Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, adaptation, and redistribution by others.