The Slovenia Times

Slo joins forces with UNESCO to promote knowledge sharing


By joining forces with UNESCO, Slovenia is aspiring to become a leading country in this field. Next week it will host an international congress on the topic.

Open educational resources (OERs) are any type of educational materials in the public domain, or released with an open license that users can legally and freely use, copy, adapt, combine and share.

OERs are seen as a strategic opportunity to improve the quality of education as well as knowledge sharing, according to the organisers of the the 2nd World OER Congress, to be held in Ljubljana at the beginning of next week.

The three-day congress dubbed "OER for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education: from Commitment to Action", starting on Monday, will feature more than 500 participants from some 100 countries, including 30 ministers.

It is to reflect on the role that OER can play in achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development of quality education.

According to Education Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič, Slovenia is a leading country in open educational resources, which is why it has offered to host the congress.

"Slovenia is, indeed, among the countries leading in OER, thanks to the commitment of the Minister of Education, Science and Sport and also the work of the UNESCO OER Chair at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana," Irina Bokova, UNESCO director general, told the STA ahead of the conference.

The goal of the congress is to examine solutions to meeting the challenges of mainstreaming OER practices into education systems worldwide, showcase the world's best practices in OER policies, and create some guidelines for the future.

Makovec Brenčič identified legal constraints and the quality of the resources as the two key challenges in the field.

Copyrights must be protected in line with EU declarations, conventions and policies in the right way, because it is important that people have access to knowledge. Of course, educational resources must be reliable and credible, the minister explained.

Slovenia has for example adopted a strategy of open access to scientific resources concerning projects financed or co-financed with public funds, the minister added.

Bokova noted that the Slovenian government had commissioned more than 300,000 OER-licensed content produced by educational institutions as well as NGOs and industry.

The first World OER Congress was held in Paris in 2012 to mark the 10th anniversary of the term OER, which was first coined at a UNESCO meeting in 2002. The declaration adopted at the congress encourages all governments to introduce open licensed funding of educational resources.

"Today, the default model is for public funds to be invested to commission and publish educational resources, and then often citizens pay again to access, own or lease those products. Education policy makers have a responsibility to optimize stewardship of public funds," Bokova said.

She sees the Ljubljana congress as an opportunity for countries to advance from commitment to action.

Participants are expected to discuss and adopt an action plan, compiled by UNESCO to address five key identified challenges to mainstreaming OER.

Makovec Brenčič said Slovenia would propose at the congress that countries active in open educational resources form an alliance or a coalition within UNESCO to support and encourage each other. She listed Germany, France, Brazil, Canada and Japan among the countries that are very active in the field.


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