Press Release: Vibal Foundation, Arellano Law School, Philippine Commons spearhead Philippine Open Education movement

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The Arellano University School of Law (AUSL), in partnership with Vibal Foundation and Creative Commons Philippines, held a one-day forum with the theme “Open Education: Is the Philippines Ready and Where are We?” at the Arellano School of Law campus on Taft Avenue, Pasay City, last Wednesday, April 23, 2008. The forum sought to discuss the feasibility and development of private initiatives to contribute to the Philippine educational or learning system, as alternatives or collaborating partners.

Atty. Jaime Soriano of Creative Commons Philippines, who is also Executive Director of the e-Law Center of the AUSL, introduced Open Education. Per his definition, “Open Education is any scholarly, academic, or guided initiative that promotes access to learning and knowledge in a free, collaborative environment using tools and infrastructure of information technology”. He also discussed the three elements of Open Education: the actor, the medium, and access.

Sigfried Herzog, of Friedrich Naumann Stiffung or Friedrich Neumann Foundation (FNF) for Liberty, next explained creative empowerment and liberal education. Although he mentioned that there may be some limitations, he stressed that liberalism in education is very important to the people, enabling them to make rational choices, empowering them to realize their potential, and forming human capital.

Atty. Michael Vernon Guerrero, deputy director of the e-Law Center of the AUSL and deputy project lead for Creative Commons Philippines, further discussed private initiatives towards open education locally and internationally. He touched on the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, which he himself had attended as one of the representatives of the Philippines. This Declaration, signed in September 2007, aims to accelerate efforts to promote open resources, technology and teaching practices. Atty. Guerrero also detailed the goals of Open Education, including open content providers and aggregators.

Bayanihan Books Online’s Greg Moreno focused on private initiatives on free and open books. He pointed out the importance of these books to the students, especially those from remote areas of the country. Through these initiatives, public schools in provinces have more chances of sourcing lessons to be taught to the students. Bayanihan Books is an organization that aims to be a solution to the growing problem of scarcity in textbooks and the places that those reach in the Philippines.

Lastly, Kristine Mandigma of Vibal Foundation discussed the commercial/business reaction to open content. She explained open knowledge and its role in helping people, then went on to discuss the projects of Vibal Foundation: Filipiniana.net and WikiPilipinas.org, and the two projects still in development, Philippine Online Chronicles (POC), a news site, and E-turo, an online repository of teaching and learning tools. All of these projects aim to preserve Philippine history and culture in order for Filipinos to see and learn things that are part of the Filipino history and identity, and to broaden the Filipino’s horizons through free quality information resources.

The forum ended with closing remarks from Atty. Soriano, encouraging everyone who attended to participate in every way they can, in order to advocate open education and open knowledge in the Philippines. (by Clarice Camille Gamara)