Advocacy - Public Software in Public Education

2017

It is recognised that a strong public education system is indispensable for universal education of an equitable quality. In the absence of public education, there can be no 'right to education'.

In the same manner, 'public software' - software that is freely available to all (Free and Open Source Software) is indispensable to ensuring that all can participate in and benefit from the digital society.

The integrated "Public Software" model followed in Kerala's IT @ Schools program, focuses on developing systemic in-house capabilities anchored around school teachers. This has led to higher teacher engagement, integration of computer learning with  the regular learning processes, significant cost efficiencies, greater peer-learner computer availability, and development of teacher networks and collaborative content creation processes, which support teacher professional development.

The alternative 'outsourcing' or 'BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer – this is a popular Public Private Partnership model, in which the private party builds the infrastructure, operates it for a period and then transfers to the public authorities)  model, does not show such significant outcomes. Funds were spent on vendor payments instead of building in-house capacities. The system itself does not benefit from this expenditure, and is unable to meaningfully sustain the program beyond BOOT period.

In-spite of empirical evidence, state governments still persist with the BOOT model of ICT in education. They still persist in procuring licenses of proprietary software, which is a huge waste of public funds, and has the inimical effect of locking the public system to perpetual rent seeking of the software vendors.

IT for Change has consistently engaged with such governments to make them aware of the huge benefits - technological, political, economic, socio-cultural from adopting public software and the dangers of locking in public education system to proprietary software (and content) vendors. IT for Change has networked with educationists and FOSS supporters across the country to advocates for use of only public software in school education, organized consultations as well as training programs on FOSS adoption.

Some of the campaigns include

  1. AICTE circular to adopt Office 365, May 2013
  2. Rajasthan Government on Tender for purchase of laptops, specifying proprietary software February 2013
  3. Government of Assam on MOU with Microsoft, June 2012
  4. Tamil Nadu government for purchase of laptops, specifying proprietary software, June 2011
  5. Government of Maharashtra, on MOU with Microsoft, August 2009

 

 

 

 

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