Establish and Operate a Repository of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic for Storage, Long-Term Archiving and Access to Educational Resources. (SK0082)
Action Plan: Slovak Republic National Action Plan 2017-2019
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport
Support Institution(s): NA
Policy AreasAccess to Information, E-Government, Education, Open Data, Public Service Delivery
The mapping of existing repositories of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport and its di-rectly managed organizations showed that none of them can be used as a central repository for open edu-cational resources in their current state. The Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport, as an in-troductory step, defined the necessary features of such a central repository. The Government of the Slovak Republic also declared its interest in creating a central archive of digital educational content in the Gov-ernment Manifesto.
Commitment No. 25: Establish and operate a repository of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic for storage, long-term archiving and access to educational resources.
IRM Midterm Status Summary
THEME - Repositories for open educational and scientific resources
Comm 25, 29, 31, 39
Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan[Note : The Office of the Plenipotentiary, “Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of the Slovak Republic 2017 – 2019”, http://bit.ly/2QYIlHV ]:
Commitment 25: “Establish and operate a repository of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic for storage, long-term archiving and access to educational resources.”
Commitment 29: “Encourage translation or dubbing of freely available educational resources into the state language or minority languages (especially videos and short films) appropriate from the perspective of the state educational program.”
Commitment 31: “Submit to the Government the legislative proposals which will introduce specific rules for open publication and the obligation to provide free access of selected publicly funded publications through the repository of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic.”
Commitment 39: “Establish and operate a repository to provide storage, long-term archiving and access to Slovak scientific and academic publications, research data and gray literature.”
Start Date: Not specified
End Date: 31 December 2018 and ongoing
Context and Objectives
Slovakia was one of the first OGP members to include open education and open access commitments in its previous OGP action plan even though these topics were not mentioned as high priorities in any of the strategic documents[Note : The Office of the Plenipotentiary, “Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of the Slovak Republic 2015”, http://bit.ly/2RevqCc]. Open education has not been explicitly mentioned in the Government Manifesto for years 2016 to 2020.[Note : The Government Office, Government manifesto, http://bit.ly/2rse9KJ, (in Slovak). ]
Open education and access commitments have been developed and implemented in a complex political environment. Frequent changes in the personnel on all organizational levels have significantly impacted the operation of the Ministry of Education, deterred continuity and affected the overall results of the sector. Since open education and access had been first drafted in the OGP action plan in 2014, four different ministers led the ministry[Note : Peter Pellegrini, current Prime Minister led the Ministry from July to November 2014. Juraj Draxler led the Ministry from 2014 to 2016. Peter Plavčan led the Ministry from 2016 to 2017. The current Minister of Education is Martina Lubyová who has been in the office since September 2017. ]. At the time of writing this report, the ministry has not yet appointed a public servant in charge of OGP commitments after the previous one left the position[Note : Viera Schauerová (Ministry of Education), E-mail conversation, 25 October 2018. See Section ‘VI. Methodology and sources for details. ]. This affects the continuity of efforts in open education.[Note : Interview with Ján Gondoľ (worked for Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization of the Slovak Republic as a consultant on OGP commitments during the action plan implementation. He is also an open education expert), See Section ‘VI. Methodology and sources for details. ]. Interviewed stakeholders all agreed that the commitments on open education and access are important and some of them could have a great potential impact and change current practices, they also stressed that other more serious problems of the sector need to be addressed first.
The previous IRM report concluded that an absence of ownership of the topic at the ministry stalled any progress. One of the key recommendations was to assign a specific unit and staff within the ministry to lead the open education and open access agenda[Note : Mária Žuffová, Open Government Partnership, “Slovakia Special Accountability Report 2014 - 2015”, http://bit.ly/2EzH4Ws. ]. Although the ministry, in particular, the Slovak Center of Scientific and Technical Information has established Open Access Point of Contact[Note : Open Access Point of Contact, Slovak Center of Scientific and Technical Information, http://openaccess.cvtisr.sk/ ], which serves as a guidance office, providing practical information, expertise, and financial assistance in implementing open access in Slovakia, it does not manage open education agenda. As a result, the efforts in open education commitments are not implemented in a coordinated manner. Moreover, another limitation deterring progress in open education is a limited number of CSOs with this specialized focus. As a result, they are unable to create a sizeable pressure on the ministry. As one interviewee mentioned, the initiatives are rare and fragmented[Note : Interview with Roman Baranovič (Narnia Grammar School), 26 October 2018. See Section ‘VI. Methodology and sources for details. ].
The commitments in this cluster are related to both open education (commitments 25, 29 and 31) and open access (commitments 38 and 39). Interviewees stated that commitment 25 to launch a repository for open educational resources could potentially have a significant impact if fully implemented[Note : Interview with Zuzana Adamová (Creative Commons Slovensko and University of Trnava), 6 November 2018. Interview with Roman Baranovič (Narnia Grammar School), 26 October 2018. Interview with Ján Gondoľ (open education and science expert), 5 November 2018. Interview with Lucia Lacika (The Office of the Plenipotentiary), 25 September and 9 October 2018. See Section ‘VI. Methodology and sources for details. ]. It could contribute to greater openness and increase access to information if it includes an opportunity for teachers to share the resources they create, and ideally encourage students to also contribute to content. In such a case, a repository for educational resources should help to address the low quality and a lack of educational resources which stakeholders raised at different forums, also during the development of the action plan[Note : The Office of the Plenipotentiary, „Správa z regionálnych workshopov k tvorbe Akčného plánu Iniciatívy pre otvorené vládnutie na roky 2016 – 2019” (Report from regional workshops on the development of the OGP Action plan 2016-2019), http://bit.ly/2zslNsy (report in Slovak).]. Interviewees stated that the impact of this new repository for educational resources is contingent upon how it is going to be developed and implemented.
Similarly, commitment 39 to launch a repository for academic publications could have a potentially moderate impact if fully implemented. The commitment managed by the Slovak Center of Scientific and Technical Information, could stretch current academic practices beyond status quo and improve access to research outputs.
Commitment 29 to encourage translation or dubbing of freely available educational resources into Slovak or minority languages could be critical to fill the new repository with educational resources before it is launched to motivate its use. However, it has a minor potential impact as the most important step will be to engage teachers and encourage them to create own educational resources.
Commitment 31 to introduce legal rules for publishing open educational and open access resources can improve the current practices by setting legal obligations. If any entity that received public funding to conduct research or create educational resources will be obliged to make final research outputs or educational materials online free of charge, this might substantially improve teachers’ access to new educational resources and both university students and academics to work of their peers. In the long term, this increase in transparency could potentially also improve competition and push for better quality of both educational resources and research outputs. However, one of the interviewees argued that this potential will be fulfilled only if the law is well applied in practice[Note : Interview with Roman Baranovič (Narnia Grammar School), 26 October 2018. See Section ‘VI. Methodology and sources for details. ]. An interviewee acknowledged that these measures might help to create open educational resources, but for them to have an impact they need to be well categorized, tagged and managed[Note : ibid. ].
Based on the interviews with stakeholders, the IRM researcher formulates the following recommendations:
- Ensure ownership of open education topic at the ministry
At the time of writing this report, the ministry has not appointed a public servant responsible for OGP commitments related to education. A lack of leadership at the ministry puts open education commitments at risk of being delayed (which has already been a case) or poorly implemented. The IRM researcher recommends that the ministry soon appoints a person who will be overseeing the implementation of open education commitments. In addition, the ministry could also establish and chair a working group, which will comprise teachers and CSO members.
- Create a more holistic approach to open education topic
Interviewees mentioned that while the focus on open educational resources is useful, it will not bring any significant change if openness is not embedded in educational practices. Pupils and students must feel like active participants in the education process. They must be continually encouraged to contribute to the learning process, create their own resources etc.
Secondly, open education commitments do not exist in isolation from other OGP commitments. The Slovak government has committed to encourage civic participation or to use open source software. Although these commitments were not made explicitly in the area of open education, all OGP values should be embedded across commitments and sectors. Open educational policies or open access policies will not achieve expected results if the civil society is excluded.
- Develop both repositories in a more participatory manner
Given the concerns about the closed process of the development of the repository for educational resources, the IRM researcher recommends opening this process up by establishing a broader platform or a working group where teachers primarily but also CSO representatives will be invited. Teachers are potential key users of the repository; thus, it is crucial to engage them from the beginning. They should have an opportunity to test the repository and provide the ministry with their feedback.
Also, the Slovak Center of Scientific and Technical information could consider either engaging the existing working group or create a new one that would participate in the development of the repository for scientific publications.
- Consider gradual roll-out of the repository for open educational resources
While there is an expectation that the ministry will train every teacher, so that s/he uses resources from the repository but also adds her own, one interviewee suggested that rolling-out the repository gradually rather than ‘en bloc’ could be beneficial. He argued that if the repository is rolled out to five to ten schools initially, it will give the ministry time to improve the repository based on received feedback before a hard roll-out[Note : Interview with Ján Gondoľ (worked for Deputy Prime Minister’s Office for Investments and Informatization of the Slovak Republic as a consultant on OGP commitments during the action plan implementation. He is also an open education expert), 5 November 2018. See Section ‘VI. Methodology and sources for details. ].