Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 207th session – UNESCO Digital Library

From p. 15: “The Executive Board,

1. Having examined documents 207 EX/7 and 207 EX/PG/1.INF.3 and Corr.,

2. Takes note of the consolidated roadmap towards the adoption of a possible UNESCO recommendation on open science contained in the Annex to document 207 EX/7;

3. Notes the importance of ensuring an open and transparent process based on a proper geographical and gender balance for the selection of the members of the Advisory Committee;

4. Requests the Director-General to ensure a broad and geographically representative Open Science Partnership, with relevant stakeholders and institutions from all regions and from all branches of Basic and Applied Sciences, including Natural Sciences, Life Sciences, and Social and Human Sciences, particularly taking into account local and indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge;

5. Recommends that the specific challenges of scientists in developing countries in regards to weak Science Technology and Innovation (STI) policy and legal systems, and the digital, technological and knowledge divides, be adequately addressed within the consolidated Roadmap and future recommendation to enable the scientists to fully participate and reap the benefits of the Open Science framework;

6. Also recommends that the General Conference, at its 40th session, invite the Director-General, to initiate, in accordance with the applicable rules and provided the resources are available, the process of elaborating a draft text of a new standard-setting instrument on open science, in the form of a recommendation, to be submitted for consideration by the General Conference at its 41st session;

7. Further recommends that the General Conference, at its 40th session, request the Director-General to hold at least one Category 2 intergovernmental meeting in presentia with a view to the elaboration of a recommendation on Open Science;

8. Recommends the Director-General to elaborate a draft Terms of Reference of The Open Science Advisory Committee to be presented at the next General Conference, for its consideration.”

Consolidated roadmap for a possible UNESCO Recommendation on open science – UNESCO Digital Library

“Further to the Executive Board decision, 206 EX/Decision 9, the objective of this document is to present a consolidated Roadmap towards a possible UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science for consideration by the Executive Board at its 207th session.Action expected of the Executive Board: proposed decision in paragraph 7.”

Preliminary study of the technical, financial and legal aspects on the desirability of a UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science – UNESCO Digital Library

“This initiative is inscribed in the continuity and follow-up of the UNESCO Recommendation on Science and Scientific researchers, approved by the General Conference at its 39th session in 2017 and the UNESCO Strategy on Open Access to scientific information and research approved by the General Conference in its 36th session in 2011. The overall objective of this document is to present the preliminary findings of the study of the desirability for UNESCO’s action, programmatic and regulatory, in the field of Open Science. A possible UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science is presented as an option to affirm UNESCO’s normative and standard-setting role in this regard.Action expected of the Executive Board: proposed decision in paragraph 39.”

UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER)

“[T]he UNESCO OER Recommendation has five objectives: (i) Building capacity of stakeholders to create access, use, adapt and redistribute OER; (ii) Developing supportive policy; (iii) Encouraging inclusive and equitable quality OER; (iv) Nurturing the creation of sustainability models for OER; and (v) Facilitating international cooperation….”

Guidelines on the development of open educational resources policies – UNESCO Digital Library

“UNESCO believes that universal access to high-quality education is key to the building of peace, sustainable social and economic development, and intercultural dialogue. In 2015, the framework for action for the Sustainable Development Goal focused on education (SDG 4) was adopted with a vision to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’ …

These guidelines for policy-makers and other stakeholders lay out steps to review, analyse, develop, implement and measure a context-relevant OER policy. They guide but do not determine what governments and involved actors should do in a specific set of circumstances. Instead, they provide a comprehensive framework for governments and institutions to set out their vision and the scope of their policy, then develop a policy masterplan and launch it….”

International Day for Universal Access to Information

“Since 2016 UNESCO marks 28 September as the “International Day for Universal Access to Information” (IDUAI), following the adoption of the 38 C/Resolution 57 declaring 28 September of every year as International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).  

The IDUAI has particular relevance with Agenda 2030 with specific reference to:

SDG 2 on investment in rural infrastructure and technology development,
SDG 11 on positive economic, social and environmental links between urban, peri-urban and rural areas and
SDG 16 on initiatives to adopt and implement constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information….”

Access to Information Is Not Universal: Here’s Why That Matters

Today is the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).

Image credit: UNESCO, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

You may be wondering why this day is necessary—particularly in 2019, when the average person is inundated with an estimated 34 gigabytes of information every day, from emails and text messages to Youtube videos and news programs. In fact, it’s easy to take information for granted. However, access to public information, in particular, is not universal.

“Although technology has increased the amount of information and systematized the collection of data, people and communities across the world still lack access to critical, public information,” explains Bushra Ebadi. As a researcher and Executive Committee Member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Bushra relies on public information to study and develop solutions for issues such as insecurity, corruption, inequality, and climate change.

Access to information “is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression” and “a key enabler towards inclusive knowledge societies.”

According to Moez Chakchouk, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, access to information “is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression” and “a key enabler towards inclusive knowledge societies.” Despite this, UNESCO says that many governments “do not have national legislation on access to information as a specific expression of the law,” otherwise known as freedom of information legislation. This means that millions of people do not have the right or the ability to access public information. Further, “Even when these laws exist they are not necessarily abided by,” adds Bushra, “there can be a lot of red tape to access information in a timely manner.”

This lack of access is particularly worrying for researchers and activists, like Bushra. Without universal, open access to data from governments or research institutions, for example, developing effective solutions to global problems is difficult.

A Closer Look At Government Data

Increasingly, governments are using tools like Creative Commons’ CC0 Public Domain Dedication (CC Zero) to maximize the “re-use of data and databases” by clarifying that these resources are in the public domain and not restricted by copyright. However, there are many instances when data collected by governments are not made easily accessible (e.g., through an online data portal or open source data set).

In 2017, the World Wide Web Foundation found that almost every country included in its Open Data Barometer report failed to adequately share important data with the public. For example, only 71% of the observed government data sets were published online, only 25% were available via an open license, and only 7% of government data sets were truly open—meaning they “can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose.” The Foundation also reported that many of the available data sets were “incomplete, out of date, of low quality, and fragmented.”

In her work, Bushra often relies on government data to conduct policy research, but has routinely experienced problems. “The relevance of the data is largely dependent on how and what information was collected, as well as the format it is available in,” she explains. While studying issues related to forced migration and gender discrimination in the Global South, for example, she found it difficult to access reliable data.

“By restricting access to those who can afford it or have power and privilege, we support a system and culture of elitism…”

To compensate for this lack of data, researchers must often rely on data collected by non-government entities—which are typically kept behind expensive paywalls. According to Bushra, this is particularly detrimental. “By restricting access to those who can afford it or have power and privilege, we support a system and culture of elitism in which a select group of people with access are able to dictate what is done with information and how it is used.”

Attendees meet at Rights Con, Tunisia 2019Image credit: Rights Con 2019, CC BY-NC 2.0

The Power of Information

Universal, open access to public information, particularly government data, not only facilitates scientific collaboration and innovation, it also empowers communities that have been historically marginalized and silenced.

“Access to information is intrinsically tied to the right to know and the right to exist,” Bushra emphasizes, “and without access to information, citizens lack the tools they need to hold their governments and people in power accountable.”

Information is powerful—that’s why, even in 2019, the International Day for Universal Access to Information remains not only important, but necessary.

To learn more and get involved, visit UNESCO’s website or sign up for their newsletter.

The post Access to Information Is Not Universal: Here’s Why That Matters appeared first on Creative Commons.

Understanding the Impact of OER: Achievements and Challenges – UNESCO IITE

The publication “Understanding the Impact of OER: Achievements and Challenges” is the result of partnership between the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) and OER Africa, an initiative established by Saide.

It critically reviews the growth of open educational resources (OER) and its potential impact on education systems around the world; and points at some significant achievements as well as key challenges hindering the growth and potential of OER that need to be addressed.

The publication summarizes the conclusions of a series of country case studies conducted by experts from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Slovenia, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. It seeks to shed light on such important issues as the economic and pedagogical value of investing in OER; the role of OER in fostering diversity, inclusion, and in purposively pursuing quality improvement and innovation; and, finally, the extent to which these important issues are being researched.

The publication is addressed to decision-makers, educators and innovators, and is aimed to stimulate the debate about the impact of OER and encourage governments to engage with OER in ways that drive defined pedagogical improvements, while encouraging equity and diversity in global knowledge networks….”

Intergovernmental Special Committee meeting related to a Draft Recommendation concerning Open Educational Resources (OER)

The meeting is pursuant to the UNESCO General Conference Resolution 39 C/Resolution 44, and UNESCO Executive Board Decision 205 EX/27.III.

The purpose of this meeting is to consider the revised version of the Recommendation concerning Open Educational Resources (OER) which was drafted based on the comments received from Member States further to Circular Letter, reference CL/4251 of 31 August 2018. The finalized draft will then be prepared for submission to the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference….”

Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 206th session – UNESCO Digital Library

Section 9 (p. 18): 

“Preliminary study of the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a UNESCO recommendation on open science (206 EX/9; 206 EX/ 47.I) The Executive Board, 1. Having examined document 206 EX/9, 2. Decides to include an item on the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a standard-setting instrument on Open Science in the provisional agenda of the 40th session of the General Conference; 3. Invites the Director-General to submit to the General Conference at its 40th session the preliminary study on the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a standard-setting instrument on Open Science contained in document 206 EX/9, together with the relevant observations and decisions of the Executive Board thereon, in particular, the need to overcome the digital, technological and knowledge divides existing between developing and developed countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States;4. Also invites the Director-General to continue holding intergovernmental consultations in praesentiawith a view for a possible elaboration of a recommendation on Open Science;5. Requests the Director-General to present the consolidated roadmap to the 207th session of the Executive Board….” 

Preliminary study of the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a UNESCO recommendation on open science(206 EX/9; 206 EX/ 47.I) The Executive Board, 1. Having examined document 206 EX/9, 2. Decides to include an item on the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a standard-setting instrument on Open Science in the provisional agenda of the 40th session of the General Conference; 3. Invites the Director-General to submit to the General Conference at its 40th session the preliminary study on the technical, financial and legal aspects of the desirability of a standard-setting instrument on Open Science contained in document 206 EX/9, together with the relevant observations and decisions of the Executive Board thereon, in particular, the need to overcome the digital, technological and knowledge divides existing between developing and developed countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States;4. Also invites the Director-General to continue holding intergovernmental consultations in praesentiawith a view for a possible elaboration of a recommendation on Open Science;5. Requests the Director-General to present the consolidated roadmap to the 207th session of the Executive Board