05.04.2012 - UNESCO

Brazil hosts Latin America Open Educational Resources Regional Forum

Cynthia Del Aguila, Minister of Education of Guatemala - © UNESCO/Stefania Pelusi

The Latin America Open Educational Resources (OER) Regional Policy Forum was co-organized by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and UNESCO in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 28 to 29 March 2012. It provided unique regional inputs to the draft Paris OER Declaration to be submitted to the World OER Congress, which will take place in Paris, France, in June 2012.

The Forum was held at the modern city campus of the Universidade Gamo Filho and attended by more than 80 participants including government representatives, civil society, academia, media and students.

There were seven governments represented at the Forum: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay. In addition to many speakers from Latin America there were presentations from South Africa and the United States of America.

The objective of the Forum was to gather the unique Latin American contributions to the draft OER Declaration that will be presented at the 2012 World OER Congress in Paris, France, from 20 to 22 June. The Declaration calls on governments to support the sustainable development and dynamic use of OERs to achieve educational goals.

Claudia Costin, Secretary for Education of the Rio de Janeiro Municipality, opened the Forum with a comprehensive overview of education in Brazil, especially in the city of Rio. Ms Costin highlighted the Municipality’s Educopédia learning portal and explained how, based on a conversation with UNESCO three months earlier, the decision was made to transform the portal from closed copyright to open licenses with Creative Commons.

John Daniel, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning, and Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, COL Consultant, provided an overview of the World OER Congress, the draft OER Declaration and the six worldwide regional Forums leading up to the Congress.

Experts from government and civil society from Latin America, South Africa and the United States of America presented OER initiatives with high-impact, stressing the importance of collaboration, capacity-building and appropriate policy frameworks for incentives and recognition.

The delegates split into two groups of government and non-government representatives to discuss the draft OER Declaration. Many substantial contributions were made during these discussions, including principles such as ‘respecting cultural diversity’ and the nuances of translating concepts such as ‘open’ and ‘free’.

On the second day of the Forum, participants listened to a second set of expert presentations. Federal representative of Brazil Paulo Teixeira spoke about the private OER Bill, currently before the Brazil Chamber of Deputies, which calls for government-funded educational resources to be made available as OERs. This presentation generated a lot of discussions among government delegates.

Abel Caine from UNESCO provided a brief overview of the context of the World OER Congress and the UNESCO OER Programme.

The Forum was closed with general comments on the draft Declaration, which will be uploaded on the COL website for comments within one week. The final version will be made available in English and French on the UNESCO main website, in Spanish on the UNESCO Santiago Office website, and in Portuguese on the UNESCO Brasilia Office website.

The Latin America OER Forum was the third in a series of worldwide regional consultations leading up to the World OER Congress in June. The next Forums are:

  • Europe and North America: 17 April 2012, Cambridge, United Kingdom;
  • Asia Pacific: 23-24 April 2012, Bangkok, Thailand;
  • Arab States: 7-8 May 2012, Muscat, Oman.

The Forum was made possible with the generous support of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Telefonica Foundation, Universidade Gamo Filho, Núcleo de Informática Aplicada à Educação (NIED), Universidade Estadual de Campinas and REA Brazil.

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