The new amendment to the Act on the School Education System is aimed at ensuring common access to educational resources, particularly school textbooks. This constitutes an important step towards carrying out the constitutional principle of education for all. At present, school textbooks are expensive and additionally publishers often force parents to make yearly purchases by joining textbooks and exercise books in one publication.
New regulations enable the creation of educational resources which can be freely accessible both in digital and printed form; they allow for the modernisation of the school textbook system which had been initiated by the “Digital School” program. The success of this solution, however, depends on proper openness, that is: accessibility of all the relevant materials for free and the application of an open license. This ensures that the public has the right to freely reuse the educational content in accordance with the Open Educational Resources standard.
The Coalition for Open Education, which groups 27 public institutions and non-profit organisations promoting open educational resources, strongly supports the initiative of the Ministry of Education. At the same time we would like to point out additional solutions which should be, in our opinion, included in the projected amendment – solutions guaranteeing the stability and quality of the open education system:
- A regulation stating that all educational resources generated with public funds should be free from restrictions concerning copying, distributing and processing (this rule should also be applied to printed reusable textbooks). Protecting free access to content as well as the citizens’ rights to use that content is vital for the standard of open education as promoted by UNESCO, the European Union, and implemented by countries such as the Netherlands, the United States, Brazil or Slovenia.
- Regulations enabling the Ministry of Education to run grant competitions for the creation of open textbooks and other educational resources to be released as open publications with appropriate open licenses. A public competition will ensure a diversity of publicly funded educational resources.
- An obligation to make publicly funded educational resources available with open licenses. Current regulations guarantee educators the freedom to use various types of content for educational purposes at school – they do not, however, permit to teach with the help of the Internet. Open licenses eliminate those restrictions and allow to fully use the potential of the Web.