On Friday, France’s minister of education declined calls from the national assembly to make the use of free and open source software a priority in schools. According to the minister, schools are already encouraged to consider the use of free software and open ICT standards.
Opposition members in France’s Assemblée nationale (the parliament’s lower house) had tabled three amendments. One of these would make the use of free and open source mandatory in schools, while the other two would have made it a priority. The discussion will now move to the Sénat, the parliament’s upper house.
April, France’s free software advocacy group, in a press release on Monday said the minister’s rejection “conceals a lack of political will to implement a genuine public policy for free software”. “A policy is built by setting priorities, not with mere encouragements,” the group added.
The use of free software in education has a long history in France. Back in 2004 a group of teachers started Framasoft (combining "FRAnçais" and "MAthématiques", or French and Maths), to support their schools in using this type of software.
The association makes available a wide range of free-software tools and services, many of which are available online. Framasoft’s online text collaboration tool Framapad, for example, seems to be quite popular among teachers for use in school projects. “To protect their privacy, we don’t track our users,” Pierre-Yves Gosset, Director of Framasoft told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory. “We know that the tool is popular with teachers only because they tell us via email and messages on social media.”
Framasoft has been trying to talk to the ministry of education to organise better support for its suite of applications. At the same time, the group is critical of the ministry’s framework proprietary licence agreements.