OSS for Open Knowledge in Italian Schools in South Tyrol

Digital sustainability in the FUSS-project

Published on: 02/03/2021
Last update: 08/05/2021

'Free Upgrade for a digitally Sustainable School' (FUSS) has created digital competences and access to digital tools in Bolzano for 15 years and won prices for their work for promoting and support local digital sustainability. During the COVID pandemic, FUSS has been involved in a SchoolSwap project where they have provided GNU/Linux-based computers for home teaching. They also participate in a number of national and international initiatives.


In 2005, the FUSS project (Free Upgrade in South Tyrol’s Schools) was supported by European Social Fund targeting schools in the autonomous Italian province of Bolzano in South Tyrol.

It is a project of digital sustainability targeted schools. Through the actions of the FUSS group and volunteers, the pupils and teachers get access to digital technologies at the school operating systemt.

The software supplied by FUSS is the operating system Debian GNU/Linux and Open Source applications. The operating system can be downloaded for free. In this way everyone can gain access to technologies at home too. This is where the sustainability comes into the picture.

Last year, FUSS became a partner in the South Tyrol network for sustainability with their focus on digital sustainability and free knowledge. They are also participaing in a number of loval/nationale projects.


SchoolSwap in the pandemic

During the local lockdown in the current COVID-pandemic, the FUSS project have shown how Open Source and digital sustainability can reduce the digital divide in the area.

In the SchoolSwap project, FUSS collaborated with LugBZ (Linux User Group Bolzano-Bozen-Bulsan), ADA - Association for the Rights of Elderly, among others . The SchoolSwap project collected used PCs from schools, companies, and public administration, which were then updated with a Debian GNU/Linux operative system and Open Source applications.

In a few months SchoolSwap supplied 164 children receiving online education with newly updated computers. In this way technology been more accessible for the children.


Ethical and free knowledge

Technological accessiblily is the center of the work in the FUSS projects in Bolzano schools. Using computers with Debian GNU/Linux, pupils can get to practice their digital competences.

GNU/Linux environment is way more flexible in comparison to proprietary systems. This chance for improving digital learning has also fosters an interest of coding - with the assistance from the local FUSS community - in some pupils.

The entire FUSS-group (Nucleo-FUSS/coordinators, technicians, and representatives) are built on an Open Source model. Everyone can take a part in coding, operation, documentation, translation, content posting or similar for the greater purpose of giving free access to knowledge.

Several factors were on the table when the FUSS group decided  on a product to support local digital sustainability. However, ethical and political reasons won, and the result was the use of GNU/Linux and Free Software. FUSS is based on four fundamental principles: Use of free software, use of open standards, creation of free content, and free access to knowledge.

With this agenda in mind, FUSS is engaged with several partners and it is also one of the 185 projects in the national initiative Repubblica Digitale.


Rupubblica Digitale

Repubblica Digitale is one Italian strategical initiative and is involved with the EU-Commission’s programme for Digital Skills and Jobs.

The initiative Repubblica Digitale aims at combating the digital cultural divide in the Italian society, to support maximum digital inclusion, and promote education in technologies of the future, which accompany the digital transformation of the country. It builds on the nationale policies about reuse of digital technologies.


National policies

The Italian state has policies supporting Open Source and promoting the reuse of digital technologies. FUSS aligns nicely with article 69 in the Digital Administration Code (CAD) about ‘Reuse of Solutions and Open Standards’.

In December 2020, the operational plan for the Italian National Strategy for Digital Skills was published. The work of FUSS fits into action 20 in the Operational Plan, under the topic Digital Sustainability.

The national strategy is ambitious. Its end goal is to overcome the digital gap within Italy by 2025.



Final take-aways

  • FUSS works for free knowledge and digital learning through use of Debian GNU/Linux based computers.
  • The group (based in Northern Italy) has won prizes on digitale sustainability
  • FUSS is a group with several partners and is at part of national and international inivitatives