Figure 1: AfLIA poster on the UNESCO OER Recommendation

The UNESCO Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) is significant to all those who are interested in and committed to ensuring that all learners have access to appropriate high-quality educational content, including librarians. It was approved unanimously by UNESCO member states in November 2019.

In August 2023, the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) and Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) co-published an Overview for African Librarians on the UNESCO OER Recommendation and Open Knowledge.[1] A William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant to NBA funded the research and writing entailed in producing the Overview.

The Overview explores how the OER Recommendation’s five action areas are relevant to librarians and what librarians can do to support their implementation. It examines how the OER Recommendation relates to the different library types in Africa and the user communities the libraries represent.

It further aims to help African librarians develop a deeper understanding of OER, including the kinds of open content that will resonate with library users. OER is consonant with other equally important principles for librarians—access to equitable, suitable, and relevant content for easy sharing and interoperability of knowledge within Africa.  All these facets are included in the Overview.

The Overview is filled with insights and stories from librarians on open knowledge and open licensing, including how traditional knowledge, culture, and languages can be used in creating and adapting openly licensed content.

AfLIA also produced a comic strip to explain to librarians why OER and UNESCO’s OER Recommendation are so important.  Comic strips on teaching are becoming increasingly popular;  Google has a full page of images, as does OER Commons. But we could not find a comic strip to explain open licensing or OER…until AfLIA came along and created one.

If you would like more information on the Overview or would be interested in joining related discussions, please write to Nkem Osuigwe, AfLIA’s Director of Human Capacity Development and Training.  Her email address is neosuigweataflia [dot] net (neosuigwe[at]aflia[dot]net).

Figure 2: AfLIA poster on collecting and opening up Africa's heritage



Lisbeth Levey