June 23, 2014
The International Conference, “Open Educational Resources (OER) and Digital Education” organized by the Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan and Public Fund “Roza Otunbayeva’s Initiative”, was dedicated to the advancement of open education and free access to knowledge in the countries of Central Asia and Mongolia. It served as a platform to share experience and ideas between the state sector, educational community, civil society activists, and international experts in OER policies.
The Conference introduced the world’s best practices on OER adoption, participating countries’ successful policies aimed at the development of the digital educational content and free access thereto, outstanding innovative approaches to the introduction of electronic textbooks, and other ingenious methods to improve access to education.
The main objective of the Conference was to present the Draft National OER Concept of Kyrgyzstan as a core policy to optimize the use of budget and donor funds intended for the development of modern teaching methods, and create conditions for free distribution of educational materials and unimpeded use thereof by third parties.
The conference was attended by representatives of the state sector, educational community, civil society activists, and OER policy experts from Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Republic of Poland, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, USA and South Africa.
The Conference focused on the following:
- International experience in OER adoption (best policies and initiatives);
- Innovative practices for the implementation of OER and the development of the digital educational content;
- Presentation of Draft National OER Concept of Kyrgyzstan.
The Conference established the following general strategic objectives for the development and promotion of OER in the region:
- Foster strategic alliances and advance the institutionalization of OER promotion through the establishment of OER Coalition; contribute to the sustainable work of the Coalition through building partnerships between governmental and non-governmental organizations, the educational sector, library science, media and telecommunications;
- Implement the objectives of the OER Concept by developing of Action Plan and promoting collaboration with representatives of legislative and executive authorities, educational and research institutions, scientists and experts, NGOs and the business community of Kyrgyzstan;
- Consolidate government, donor and commercial resources of the Central Asian region for planning and implementing joint international educational, research and other initiatives to actively promote the OER policy in terms of liberalization of educational content;
- Ensure information exchange between organizations and activists to promote OER through a single information source as an official website, the use of social networks, and email subscribe list on OER in the region.
The following tasks were approved as priority measures based on the general objectives above:
1. Establish the OER Coalition, a single expert platform, consisting of civil society activists, NGOs, educational institutions, and donor organizations to promote and implement the OER Concept with functions of information exchange, development and harmonization of policies, formulation and promotion of the OER Concept Action Plan;
2. Conduct an awarness rainsing and capacity building activitties (conferences, round tables, training, education and research initiatives) to stimulate active participation by all stakeholders in efforts to promote OER, recruit active members into the Coalition; publish and widely disseminate the results of this Conference in the media and the Internet for communication and promotion of OER initiatives;
3. Direct the existing Working Group on the National OER Concept to:
– Finalize the Draft OER Concept taking into account suggestions and comments made at the Conference, organize a series of discussions of this document with all stakeholders;
– Develop an Action Plan for the implementation of the OER Concept;
– Develop the necessary draft amendments to laws and regulations (if it is included into the Action Plan) to accelerate the creation of the legislative framework for the introduction and promotion of OER;
4. Direct the Coalition for Open Education assisted by the Working Group to submit recommendations and proposals to:
– Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) – to accelerate the adoption of new policies on open licensing of educational materials produced at the expense of the state budget;
– Government of the Kyrgyz Republic – to promote an enabling environment for the implementation of OER based on interagency collaboration (Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Culture and Information, Ministry of Youth, Labour and Migration, etc.), and contribute to the rapid establishment of the National Repository of OER at the National Library;
– Ministry of Education and Science and its structural units and institutions – to include the OER policies into the Action Plan of Education Reform Strategy in the Kyrgyz Republic for 2014-2017 to stimulate the development of high quality OER, including digital learning materials (creating a center for digital competencies); ensure training and professional development of teachers and other personnel in production and sharing of high quality and affordable educational resources, taking into account local needs and a wide variety of students;
– Authors and publishers, copyright holders of state certified training materials, – to join the OER initiative and possibly revise the licensing conditions in order to ensure free access to these materials;
– Donor and international agencies – to provide comprehensive support for the OER initiative, and introduce intra-institutional policies on open licensing of products developed at their initiative;
– Mobile operators – to provide free mobile internet traffic to access the National Repository of OER as part of their corporate social responsibility programs, private entities – to support the production and dissemination of electronic textbooks among educational institutions and equip students with tablets.