OER and OEP in the Global South: Implications and recommendations for social inclusion (Advance online publication)
The Research on Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D) project was undertaken to provide a better understanding of the uptake of Open Educational Resources (OER) and their impact on education in the Global South. The 18 sub-projects that comprise the larger project investigated the extent of OER adoption by educators and students; the factors influencing OER adoption; and the impact of OER adoption on access to educational resources, the quality of teaching and learning, and some of the costs of education provision in 21 countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.
The findings of each of the sub-projects are discussed in the various chapters comprising this volume, and a meta-synthesis of these findings is presented in Chapter 2. Using a social realist lens, the meta-synthesis provides a comparative analysis of OER use, adaptation and creation across the research sites, and identifies the structural, cultural and agential factors that enable and constrain these Open Educational Practices (OEP). It points out disjunctures in adoption processes in the countries and institutions studied, and draws insights regarding the extent to which OER adoption can expand access to educational materials, enhance the quality of educational resources and educators’ pedagogical perspectives and practices, and improve the affordability and sustainability of education in the Global South.
This concluding chapter explores the implications of the main research findings presented in the meta-synthesis for the attainment of social inclusion, which lies at the heart of the Open Education movement. The Paris OER Declaration of 20121 explicitly calls upon states to “[p]romote and use OER to … contribut[e] to social inclusion, gender equity and special needs education [and i]mprove both cost-efficiency and quality of teaching and learning outcomes”2 (emphasis added). The Ljubljana OER Action Plan of 20173 likewise recognises that, “[t]oward the realization of inclusive Knowledge Societies ... [OER] support quality education that is equitable, inclusive, open and participatory”. Understanding how OER, OEP and Open Education more generally, can help to achieve social inclusion is particularly critical in the Global South where increased demand, lack of resources and high costs limit the capacity of education systems to provide accessible, relevant, highquality and affordable education. This chapter aims to contribute to this understanding the potential of OER and their accompanying OEP through a critical exploration of the ROER4D findings in terms of whether and how OER adoption promotes equitable access, participatory education and empowerment of teachers and students, and thus helps to achieve social inclusion. The chapter begins with a brief overview of the relationship between OER and social inclusion, details the implications of ROER4D’s findings as they pertain to social inclusion, and concludes with recommendations for advocacy, policy, practice and further research in OER and OEP in the Global South.