English press release

Cape Town, January 22nd, 2008 — A coalition of educators,
foundations, and internet pioneers today urged governments and
publishers to make publicly-funded educational materials available
freely over the internet.

The Cape Town Open Education Declaration, launched today, is part of
a dynamic effort to make learning and teaching materials available to
everyone online, regardless of income or geographic location. It
encourages teachers and students around the world to join a growing
movement and use the web to share, remix and translate classroom
materials to make education more accessible, effective, and flexible.

“Open education allows every person on earth to access and
contribute to the vast pool of knowledge on the web,” said Jimmy Wales,
founder of Wikipedia and Wikia and one of the authors of the
Declaration. “Everyone has something to teach and everyone has
something to learn.”

According to the Declaration, teachers, students and communities
would benefit if publishers and governments made publicly-funded
educational materials freely available online. This will give students
unlimited access to high quality, constantly improving course
materials, just as Wikipedia has done in the world of reference

Open education makes the link between teaching, learning and the
collaborative culture of the Internet. It includes creating and sharing
materials used in teaching as well as new approaches to learning where
people create and shape knowledge together. These new
practices promise to provide students with educational materials that
are individually tailored to their learning style.  There are already
over 100,000 such open educational resources available on the Internet.

The Declaration is the result of a
meeting of thirty open education leaders in Cape Town, South Africa,
organized late last year by the Open Society Institute and the
Shuttleworth Foundation. Participants identified key strategies for
developing open education. They encourage others to join and sign the

“Open sourcing education doesn’t just make learning more accessible,
it makes it more collaborative, flexible and locally relevant,” said
Linux Entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth, who also recorded a video press
briefing (http://capetowndeclaration.blip.tv/). 
“Linux is succeeding exactly because of this sort of adaptability.  The
same kind of success is possible for open education.”

Open education is of particular relevance in developing and emerging
economies, creating the potential for affordable textbooks and learning
materials. It opens the door to small scale, local content producers
likely to create more diverse offerings than large multinational
publishing houses.

“Cultural diversity and local knowledge are a critical part of open
education,” said Eve Gray of the Centre for Educational Technology at
the University of Cape Town. “Countries like South Africa need to start
producing and sharing educational materials built on their own diverse
cultural heritage. Open education promises to make this kind of diverse
publishing possible.”

The Declaration has already been
translated into over a dozen languages and the growing list of
signatories includes:  Jimmy Wales; Mark Shuttleworth; Peter Gabriel,
musician and founder of Real World Studios; Sir John Daniel, President
of Commonwealth of Learning; Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive; Thomas Alexander, former
Director for Education at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; Paul N. Courant, University Librarian and former Provost, University of Michigan; Lawrence
Lessig, founder and CEO of Creative Commons; Andrey Kortunov, President
of the New Eurasia Foundation; and Yehuda Elkana, Rector of the Central
European University.
Organizations endorsing the
Declaration include: Wikimedia Foundation; Public Library of Science;
Commonwealth of Learning; Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources
Coalition; Canonical Ltd.; Centre for Open and Sustainable Learning;
Open Society Institute; and Shuttleworth Foundation.

To read or sign the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, please visit: http://www.capetowndeclaration.org.


For U.S. Media
Alex Krstevski | Open Society Institute
+1 212 548 0311 | akrstevski@sorosny.org

For U.K. and South African Media
Renee Conradie | Emerging Media Communications
+27 11 792-4706 renee@emergingmedia.co.za