Steps taken towards the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) in Caribbean SIDS

UNESCO invited its Caribbean Member States to discuss the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) in Caribbean SIDS and issues related to OER in the region, on 9 December 2021.

Kicking off this multi-faceted process, the meeting, held via Zoom, discussed the necessary next steps to advance the implementation of the Recommendation on Open Educational Resources in Caribbean SIDS by sharing knowledge and information on the activities and progress of the OER Recommendation at the global level, presenting the proposed activities of the plan for the Caribbean sub-region, and deliberating and recommending strategies to ensure the success of the initiative.

Director Sanchez-Vegas further pointed out that this digital and knowledge divide is particularly critical at a time when, due to a global pandemic, many job opportunities are being taken remotely, which is moving from a disadvantage to a debilitating limitation to full participation in society. She also stressed the need to work in the long term to improve access to digital technologies and in the short term to ensure that lack of access does not lead to an inability to manage daily life.

Zeynep Varoglu, Programme Specialist for Digital Transformations and Innovations at UNESCO Paris, gave an overview of the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER), adopted by UNESCO at the 40th General Conference in Paris in 2019, with the aim of promoting the adoption and integration of OER practices into government policies and global strategies.

UNESCO’s 2019 OER Recommendation defines OER as “learning, teaching, and research materials in any format and medium that reside in the public domain or are under the copyright that has been released under an open license, that permits no-cost access, re-use, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others.”

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, free online resources have continued to grow in importance. The value of OER is that they are a tool that can be used by governments and citizens, enabling them to create knowledge.

UNESCO’s OER Recommendation is mainly based on five objectives which aim to

Building the capacity of stakeholders to create, access, re-use, adapt and redistribute OER;
Developing supportive policy for OER;
Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER;
Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and
Promoting and reinforcing international cooperation in OER.
Capacity building means ensuring that stakeholders understand the added value of OER, have the know-how to create, access, reuse and redistribute OER, and that open licensed tools, platforms, etc. are available so that OER can be easily found.

Zeynep Varoglu also stressed that the recommendation highlights the need for inclusion by making digital materials accessible and multilingual for people with disabilities and from other linguistic backgrounds.

She also presented the work of the OER Dynamic Coalition, a multi-stakeholder coalition composed of UNESCO Member States, representatives of education and information institutions, civil society organisations and international governmental organisations. Activities carried out since the launch of the OER Dynamic Coalition include a series of webinars, a mapping of available courses, a revision of the UNESCO Guidelines for the Inclusion of Learners with Disabilities, and more.

The Sahel Project “Policy, Capacity Building, Multilingualism” for OER Cooperation in Francophone African Countries is one activity that serves as an example of a mechanism for implementing the Recommendation.

Elena Nápoles Rodríguez, Programme Officer of the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, explained that two surveys on OER are being developed to targeting governments and institutions, to examine the development and implementation of OER capacities and policies in Caribbean UNESCO Member States. This will serve to identify and differentiate the ongoing use of OER at the national and institutional levels in the region, as well as to understand the general level of knowledge of governments and institutions on the use of OER, available capacities and policies and strategies and their relationship to key education policy needs and overall government policy priorities.

Caribbean UNESCO Member States, including Cuba, Jamaica, Curaçao and Aruba, expressed great interest in implementing the OER recommendation in their countries.

Isabel Viera Bermúdez, Communication and Information Advisor, UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, announced the next action steps, which include further discussions and information sharing. Member States were also invited to join the UNESCO OER Dynamic Coalition.


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