Future of Open Education

Date: 12 June 2024 

In person – Hlanganani Junction, Level 7, Oppenheimer Library, Upper Campus, UCT 
Online – MS Teams 

The purpose of this event is to identify the key issues facing the growth, sustainability and future of open education initiatives in South Africa. Framed with an explicit social justice agenda, the intention is to surface current discourses around open education and social justice, and articulate the key opportunities and challenges related to implementing, supporting and sustaining open education activities that address institutional imperatives around addressing access and epistemic representation. 

Drawing inspiration from the UNESCO ‘Futures of higher education’ project (2021), this symposium will grapple with the call for a new social contract addressing increased inequality and the access crisis in higher education, the rapid rise and integration of AI, and the need to be pro-active in setting out goals, mission and strategies to advance the open education agenda, specifically as relates to:   

  • A radically different approach to higher education with a focus on openness, inclusivity and diversity.  
  • Moving away from neoliberal competition towards higher education as a public and common good. 
  • Rethinking existing pedagogical approaches. 
  • Foregrounding the presence of students and building a truly inclusive democratic higher education ecosystem where students feel a sense of belonging. 
  • “Courageously imagining and sharing fresh possibilities for open education” (Czerniewicz & Cronin, 2024).   

The symposium is hosted by the UCT UNESCO Chair in Open Education and Social Justice, Associate Professor Glenda Cox, in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources at North-West University, Professor Dorothy Laubscher, and Commonwealth of Learning Chair in Open Education Practices and Resources at UNISA, Professor Mpine Makoe.   

This event builds on prior advocacy activity and national stakeholder conversations which have taken place since 2021 under the auspices of the Open Textbooks in South African Higher Education initiative. Read the Call to Action 2021 and the 2021 Roundtable Report

Who are we talking to? 

Partners and stakeholders invested in the role of open education in achieving a socially just higher education of the future, including: 

  • Students 
  • Academics 
  • University and higher education managers 
  • Librarians 
  • NGO and civil society practitioners 
  • Consultants in the field 
  • Government representatives 

Envisioned outcomes 

  • Establishment of an interdisciplinary community in which the purpose of opening up education is a common purpose.  
  • Integration with the UNESCO Unitwin network as a means of leveraging international networks to boost local OER production and sustainability. 
  • Identify future opportunities, aspirations and potential collaboration partners. 
  • Explore opportunities for joint research and advocacy agendas and collaboration partners. 
  • Articulate recommendations for institutions pursuing open education activities as part of a social justice driven transformation agenda. 
  • Elaborated plan of action for networks, institutions, organisations and individuals. 

This is an open, hybrid event. Participation is free to all registrants and is open to colleagues and students from all South African universities and partner organisations. 

The Digital Open Textbooks for Development initiative is grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the financial support which made this event possible.

Click here to view the preliminary programme and speaker bios

Click here to register for the event