Implementing UNESCO’s OER Recommendation in Francophone Africa

The Workshop on OER in Francophone Africa, organized by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) in partnership with UNESCO and the Digital University (France) addressed capacity building and awareness raising on policy issues supporting OER development in Francophone Africa focusing on institutions on 9 June 2021 (online).
Representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Mali, the Republique of Congo and Senegal, as well as from France and Norway focused on strengthening dialogue and interaction between the ministerial and institutional levels. They also shared experiences on the potential of OER in Francophone Africa for quality, innovation and access to learning in the current Covid 19 context.

Best practices for accessing and using Francophone OER, and the use of artificial intelligence in the area of OER being piloted in cooperation with Francophone institutions were shared to support the development of regional capacity building and policy activities. The added value of OER for ensuring knowledge sharing to support the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda was also highlighted in the meeting.

With the accelerated use of digital resources worldwide, participants highlighted the need to clarify ‘what is OER’ and ‘what is not OER’. Specifically, not all digital learning materials available for free are OER. Only materials published under an open license or in the public domain are OER. The default copyright for materials, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is ‘all rights reserved’. This means that the copyright holder (e.g. author of a textbook) has not given users the right to share the materials, (re-use), and/ or modify (re-purpose, adapt).

The workshop was part of the ICDE OER Africa Francophone project, coordinated by ICDE, with support from UNESCO and the Virtual University, which aims to support the first two objectives of the Recommendation (capacity building and policy development), by bringing together national and institutional stakeholders at ministerial and academic levels through joint workshops.

The contributions of the workshop provided an overview of the status of implementation of the OER Recommendation in Francophone Africa, the potential of OER for quality, innovation and access to education in the context of COVID-19.

The UNESCO OER Recommendation is the only existing normative instrument in the field of technology and education. It identifies five areas for action:

capacity building to create, access, reuse, adapt and redistribute OER,
supportive policy,
inclusive and equitable access to quality OER,
sustainability models for OER, and
international cooperation.
The Dynamic Coalition for OER was created following the adoption of the UNESCO Recommendation on OER by Member States at the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2019. The aim of the Dynamic Coalition is to support governments in the implementation of the OER Recommendation by promoting and strengthening international and regional cooperation among all stakeholders in the first four areas of the UNESCO OER Recommendation.