The school education system in its entirety in the state of Kerala has completely migrated over to Free and Open Source Software, or FOSS as it has come to be popularly known. This is as in accordance with the state’s curriculum committee giving permission for the implementation of FOSS in the section of Higher Secondary schooling as well. On asking them about the matter an official said that the decision made by the State Curriculum Committee, which had been headed by the State Minister of Education C Raveendranath, had extended to the section of Higher Secondary Schooling as well. This would represent a kind of hiatus for proprietary software in schools and institutions of education in the state, which would indeed be following in the example set bu the Primary to High School sections of the state. The official who made these statements was the Executive Director of the IT@School Project Anvar Sadath K.
What it is
The Migration to the open source platform has helped the government save a significant amount financially, specifically to the tune of about three-hundred crores of rupees, according to Sadath. He went on to qualify that it was not the savings in terms of cost that was the biggest gain in this project but the fact that now the instructors, students and all others involved in the educational stream may now freely copy, proliferate, distribute and pursue sharing of the content as well as the source material in any way they seek or wish, which is something that is vitally absent in proprietary options.
It is in fact very heartening to see that in a world of so much technological subservience and disregard of software freedom that a state is taking so much interest in moving towards free software. FOSS allows everyone involved in the process to learn, share and contribute to the project, it has in fact ben shown by research that the use of FOSS in educational environments promotes technical as well as creative thinking in students and thus can be a very powerful thing.
Sadath also had to say that this inclusion was not the end but only another step in the process of making FOSS a standard across the board in the state. He says that IT@School aims to bring in an accounting package as well that would add office accounting functionality to the core packages currently being used in schools. In fact he said that they are willing to help with the adaptation of FOSS in any other country or state where there is an interest to make such a bold and rewarding move.
He pointed out that information technology has been an integral part of the school syllabus and curriculum in schools across Kerala since the year 2003. In fact it is a compulsory subject from the 8th grade now and although the education based in FOSS started off only by the year 2005, it was also made a mandatory part of the system by the state government’s move to make it official through an order, it is now also a very critical part of the learning system. In fact its importance cannot be too strongly stated, as it is a leapfrog in terms of the kind of technology and capabilities as well as freedom that educators and schools have at their disposal.