OER Africa is an innovative initiative established by the South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) to play a leading role in driving the development and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) across all education sectors on the African continent. Click here to download the OER Africa brochure.
Established in 1992, Saide anticipated how distance education methods could assist in meeting the mammoth educational challenges facing post-Apartheid South Africa: in redressing the inequalities of the past; in vastly increasing access and quality; and in developing a future education system where education is no longer seen as a once off preparation for life but rather as a lifelong process to meet ever-changing demands.
Saide’s mission is to increase equitable and meaningful access to knowledge, skills and learning across the African continent, through the adoption of open learning principles and distance education strategies. Saide’s recently launched OER Africa initiative brings together all of its OER-related activities under a common conceptual framework.
Educational Resources (OER) within higher education across the African continent
OER Africa was established in the firm belief that OER has a powerful positive role to play in developing and capacitating higher education systems and institutions across Africa. This conviction is matched by concern that – if the concept and practice of OER evolves predominantly outside and for Africa then – African higher education will not be able to liberate its potential for itself. Thus, OER Africa has been set up to ensure that the power of OER is harnessed by Africans for Africans by building collaborative networks across the continent. The premise of OER Africa is that it will facilitate the aggregation of information and human expertise that produces knowledge – an activity which can either be individual, or inter-institutional. Seed funding has been provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a Foundation which has successfully supported the development of a number of open educational resources initiatives such as the MIT OpenCourseWare in the United States.
OER Africa’s mission is to establish vibrant networks of African OER practitioners (institutions and individuals alike) by connecting like-minded academics from across the continent to develop, share, and adapt OER to meet the higher education needs of African societies. By creating and sustaining human networks of collaboration – face-to-face and online – OER Africa will enable African academics and higher education students to harness the power of OER, develop their capacity, and become integrated into the emerging global OER networks as active participants rather than passive consumers.
OER Africa’s vision is one of vibrant, sustainable African higher education institutions that play a critical role in building and sustaining African societies and economies, by producing the continent’s future intellectual leaders through free and open development and sharing of common intellectual capital. Over the next three years, OER Africa seeks to respond to a clear set of specific problems faced by the higher education sector in Africa. OER Africa has already begun work in several key activity areas including institutional policy engagement, creation of collaborative networks, research into OER concepts and practice in Africa and the management and growth of OER Africa website.