Universal Education Realized

Open Education 2016

Author: Cable Green, Creative Commons, United States

The Guardian, October 6, 2020
Nairobi, Kenya

World leaders met in in Nairobi today to celebrate universal access to education for all. The final free Android tablet and solar charger were ceremoniously handed to Amani Adoyo, a grade three student at Bangani Secondary School. The three-year-old “Global Open Education Access” project has surpassed all expectations by providing everyone with universal access to quality educational resources in local languages, customized by local teachers, schools, and universities.

World leaders decided in 2016 that the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals could not be solved by the less than 10% of the global population which held tertiary degrees. Global warming, clean water scarcity, high costs of clean energy technologies, and refugee crises required all minds to learn about and collectively solve these global challenges.

The Global Open Education Access project, a global commitment that emerged from the 2016 Council on Universal Education Access, ensured everyone on the planet: (1) free and open access to the world’s knowledge and data, (2) a mobile smartphone, (3) unlimited mobile bandwidth, and (4) access to highly educated teachers and global challenges guides. The global challenges guides act as “career counselors” to match learners’ interests with global problems that need solving.

While access to high quality, up-to-date, online open educational resources is commonplace today, it was not always this way. In 2017, the global non-profit Creative Commons (CC)—the maker of the open licenses the world uses to share creative materials—exploded onto the world scene after it updated its technology to make it simple for everyone to share education materials with a single click. Further adoption occurred when author attribution was automated in HTML6 and the major Internet platforms widely adopted CC license integrations, shifting the conversation from how to share to why to share.

Worldwide communities of educators, scientists, and government representatives convened in 2017 to discuss how they could advance their communities’ goals through ubiquitous, openly licensed, digital access to their work, challenges, and solutions. The conclusion was that because digital CC licensed materials could be stored, distributed, and copied for nearly zero monetary cost, professionals everywhere had a moral and ethical right to share with the public. This realization ushered in a new era of access to knowledge as well as an expectation that all citizens would exercise these rights and, in the words of the President of the United States, Hillary Clinton, “learn to contribute.”

Though traditional textbook publishers challenged the Global Open Education Access project, calling it “unsustainable,” funding was found in existing government education and research budgets for the production and updating of open educational resources and scientific research, free tuition for teachers and global challenges guides, mobile devices, and unlimited bandwidth for every citizen. While educators made the shift to sharing their work under an open license, there was also a parallel “open policy” movement to ensure that all publicly funded resources were openly licensed and made freely available to the public. At last week’s UN General Assembly, UN President Secretary General Irina Bokova said, “When the public pays for education and research resources, the public should have free and legal access to it.”

What will you contribute today?

Creative Commons License
This work by Cable Green is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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