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Building peace in the minds of men and women

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.

Since 2002, when the term Open Educational Resources (OER) first emerged, to today, OER has increasingly been recognized by the international community as an innovative tool for meeting the challenges of providing lifelong learning opportunities for learners from diverse levels and modes of education worldwide’.


The term “Open Educational Resources” (OERs) was created at UNESCO’s 2002 Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing Countries to describe a new global phenomenon of openly sharing educational resources in 2002. This campaign to make freely adaptable content known as OER widely available has gathered momentum. Subsequently, a global community of OER producers has emerged and institutions are incorporating these resources into their teaching and learning strategies.

OER is consistent with UNESCO’s constitutional commitment to “the free exchange of ideas and knowledge”. Learning materials freely available for adaptation and re-purposing can expand access to learning of better quality at lower cost. The rapid expansion of technology-mediated approaches to deliver learning worldwide has accentuated the sharing and relevance of OER and amplified this global phenomenon.

UNESCO with its partners has been working in this field since 2002 through the 1st and 2nd World OER Congresses and through related activities to support the use of OER to expand access to quality learning throughout life.

The 1st UNESCO World OER Congress 2012 (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris) brought together Ministers of Education/Human Resource Development, senior policy makers, expert practitioners, researchers and relevant stakeholders to discuss ongoing OER initiatives and adopted the Paris OER Declaration. The 1st World OER Congress adopted the 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs. This declaration encouraged a commitment to the principle that the products of publicly funded work in support of education should carry open licenses, and supported capacity building, collaboration and research endeavors related to OER.

The 2nd World Open Educational Resources (Ljubljana, Slovenia September 2017) brought together Ministers of Education and Higher Education, decision-makers responsible for human resources development, senior policy makers, expert practitioners, researchers and relevant stakeholders. Some 500 participants attended the event from over 100 UNESCO Member States.

This meeting organized by UNESCO and the Government of Slovenia/Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, produced the “Ljubljana OER action plan” and the 2nd World OER Congress Ministerial Statement, which were both adopted by consensus. Stakeholders identified in the Ljubljana OER Action Plan are: educators, teacher trainers, librarians, learners, parents, educational policy makers at both the governmental and institutional level, teachers and other.

The Ljubljana OER action plan provides recommendations to stakeholders in five strategic areas:

  1. Building the capacity of users to find, re-use, create and share OER
  2. Language & Cultural issues
  3. Ensuring inclusive and equitable access to quality OER
  4. Developing sustainability models
  5. Developing supportive policy environments