Resolution on: Strengthening Equitable Access to Teaching, Learning and Research Materials

published 13 September 2019 updated 17 September 2019

The 8th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21st to 26th July 2019,

(1) Recalling that the public good is best served by the widest and most accessible dissemination of knowledge including scholarly work and educational materials;

(2) Concerned about the patterns of inequality in accessing and creating research, educational materials and other creative works that hinder the enhancement of educational and cultural participation for all irrespective of age, disability, ethnicity or indigeneity, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation, language, marital status, migratory status, political activism, religion, socio-economic status, trade union affiliation or geographical location, among others;

(3) Recognising that technological advancements have in general increased the opportunities for accessing, as well as sharing knowledge, but seriously concerned that many teachers, academics, researchers, education support personnel (ESP), as well as students still do not have access to adequate ICT infrastructure and/or are prevented from making fair use of digital works due to restrictive copyright regimes, digital locks and pay walls;

(4) Stressing the need to improve technological infrastructure (e.g. platforms), as well as formats of education and research works so they are accessible for all and can be easily found, used and adapted by teachers, education support personnel and researchers;

(5) Drawing attention to the asymmetries in the production and use of research and educational materials between the Global North and the Global South;

(6) Acknowledging that the availability of textbooks and other materials for teaching and learning is a fundamental part of the Right to Education and that Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) on quality education and the related Framework for Action repeatedly remind governments of their obligation to fulfil this right and to provide teachers with access to books, other learning materials and open educational resources;

(7) Stating the importance of increasing the availability of Open Educational Resources (OER) for the provision of equitable and quality education for all, as well as more open and collaborative ways of teaching and learning in education institutions;

(8) Condemning the fact that commercialism and business practices can be used to exploit the knowledge and efforts of educators, researchers and education support personnel as they contribute to the development of works;

(9) Acknowledging that open licensing can ensure public dissemination of research and educational materials while at the same time giving the creators control over how their work can be used (e.g. Creative Commons);

(10) Stating that publicly funded research and resources should always be accessible under an open license;

(11) Reaffirming the EI Congress Resolution on Copyright and Education, which advocates for a balanced approach to copyright legislation and stresses the need to defend and broaden international copyright exceptions and limitations for education and research purposes;

(12) Acknowledging the importance of international copyright exceptions and limitations for people with disabilities such as the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities;

(13) Stressing the importance of advancing open access policies for scholarly works and challenge predatory publishing practices as addressed in EI’s Policy Statement on Open Access in Further and Higher Education and Research;

(14) The 8th World Congress calls upon EI and its affiliates to advocate:(i) for a common commitment by users, educators, institutions and governments to promote copyright, OER and open access policies that foster openness and are aligned with the promotion of education and research as a public good and human right;

(ii) that textbook, copyright, OER and open access policies should be developed and implemented in consultation with education unions in order to ensure that they comply with national quality standards for teaching and learning, are not subordinated to commercial imperatives, are culturally and gender-sensitive and do not undermine teachers’ and academics’ autonomy and working conditions, including their right to full and proper recognition;

(iii) for joint campaigning with library associations and other civil society actors that share the same concerns and values in relation to OER, copyright and open access;

(iv) for negotiated policies (e.g. collective agreements) which ensure that teachers, researchers, trainers and Education Support Personnel retain control over their works and at the same time encourage a culture of sharing through, for instance, the use of open licenses as well as institutional archiving policies;

(v) that open access, open educational resources and other openly licensed works should not be used by governments or institutions to reduce library expenditures or investments into the development of educational materials. Any savings must be fully reinvested into teaching, research and the dissemination of knowledge;

(vi) for an inclusive approach to copyright, OER and open access reforms that resolve barriers and empowers all to contribute to and benefit from access to research, educational materials and other creative works;

(vii) for the development of social dialogue between the social partners, employers’ and workers’ organisations, in order to reach ‘collective agreements’ and ensure their implementation, especially for public education institutions at the national level.

(15) Congress mandates the Executive Board:(i) to advocate that all UN agencies, including the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), work collaboratively towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals;

(ii) to lobby WIPO to address copyright exceptions and limitations for people with other disabilities that are not covered by the Marrakesh Treaty and advance the development of an international instrument for copyright exceptions and limitations for education and research purposes that addresses cross-border uses of materials through its standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights;

(iii) to consider commissioning research on copyright, open access and open educational resources that can support the advocacy and policy work at the national and global levels;

(iv) to engage with UNESCO concerning the implementation of the Ljubljana OER Action Plan as well as the UNESCO OER Recommendation that will advise governments and monitor progress on national level OER policies and practices; and

(v) to explore how other open practices such as Open Data, Open Pedagogy, Open Source, Open Science, Open Software and Open Hardware, among others, can help advancing more inclusive, open and transparent ways of working in education and research.