On the afternoon of 19 May 2020, the Open University of China (OUC) and UNESCO signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Jing Degang, OUC president and secretary of its Party Committee, and Marielza Oliveira, director and representative of the UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office, signed on behalf of the respective parties at a signing ceremony. The ceremony was also attended by deputy secretary general Mr Zhou Jiagui and director of the Department of Education Ms Jia Nan from the Secretariat of Chinese National Commission for UNESCO.

Since November 2019, the OUC and the UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office have conducted in-depth communications and exchanges. Based on their mutual understanding, it was decided that the two institutions will carry forward bilateral or multilateral cooperation at the regional and international levels within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly construct an open and distance learning (ODL) platform, collaborate in the fields of lifelong learning and adult education, and promote cooperation in terms of knowledge sharing and resources in ODL and quality assurance in higher education.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the OUC has actively responded to UNESCO’s initiative “Combat COVID-19: Keep learning. Together we are on the move!”, offering online education resources to countries and students in need. It has provided high-quality online resources for free to the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, covering areas such as scientific epidemic prevention, higher education, vocational education, primary and secondary education, social training, and language learning. In addition, the OUC has specially produced and translated video resources in the fields of scientific epidemic prevention, artificial intelligence, and nature and science.

After signing the MOU, the OUC will continue to promote cooperation with UNESCO, including teacher training for Pacific Islands countries, making attempts to produce degree curricula in English for countries along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative, joining the UNESCO Global Forum, getting involved in some of UNESCO’s collaborative research projects with relevant institutions and organisations, and working with UNESCO to jointly promote the sharing of high quality educational and teaching resources in developing countries.

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By Hou Songyan, OUC