2009. november 17., kedd

Ministry of Education recommends Open Source

The Polish Ministry of National Education is advising schools and universities to use Open Source software. The recommendation comes at the end of a volunteer campaign to help schools switch to Open Source.

The Ministry recommended in a statement that schools and universities use OpenOffice. The application suite is sufficiently mature and advanced to be used for teaching and for office use in education and science institutes. "OpenOffice can successfully substitute proprietary applications and will result in significant savings on licenses."

The ministry published the statement on its website on 17 July, three days before the official end of the 'WiOO w Szkole' ('Free and Open Software in Schools') campaign, a promotion tour run by 150 volunteers of the Polish Foundation on Open Source (Fwioo).

The Wioo w Szkole volunteers in the past ten months visited 99 schools, mostly junior and high schools, totalling 4506 students, in 43 villages and cities. "During these meetings, our volunteers presented Open Source applications, answered questions and cleared up doubts. They often also helped in installing the software on the PCs in school computer labs and on school servers", says Fwioo member Łukasz Nowicki, who began organising the campaign at the end of the summer in 2007 in Poznan, where Fwioo was founded.

Where possible, the Wioo w Szkole campaign volunteers used local Open Source enthusiasts. In the city of Bielsko Biała for example, all schools participated in the campaign. "We combined our visit to the city with the Free Software day, which attracted local Open Source developers and we even managed to interest university teachers and several local police officers."

About 30 percent of the schools visited by the Wioo w Szkole campaign  have switched at least partly to Open Source. Most of these schools configured their PCs to run a GNU/Linux distribution such as Ubuntu, Suse or Mandriva, alongside Windows. Nowicki: "Some school staff told us they are still considering a switch, others would use the summer vacation to for instance install OpenOffice and a few schools said they would switch to Open Source when they renew their computer labs."

A good example of a school using Open Source is, according to Nowicki, High School No 15 in the city of Wrocław. "At this school teachers show students how to use Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux and Mac OS X. This broad knowledge base lets students develop their interests without limiting them to a specific platform."


The campaign to popularise Open Source will be renewed in the coming school year, Nowicki says. "We want to make all Polish teachers and students aware that they have a choice in applications and computer platforms. Students should not finish school knowing only about one type of software. They should know enough about computer environments to be able to use programmes they have not seen before. "

Nowicki is particularly pleased with some school district supervisors that embraced the campaign aims and are promoting Open Source software among all their school principals. "We hope our grass-root initiative will create a snow ball effect, making Open Source a regular part of the school curriculum. The ministry's statement will certainly help."

More information:

Ministry of Education's statement (in Polish)

Wio w Szkole campaign website

Fwioo, Polish Foundation on Open Source

Source: Osor
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