Europe's schools remain shy a…

Europe's schools remain shy about open source

Published on: 23/11/2008

The number of schools in the European Union using open source on the desktop, remains low. However, a few more are considering it, three recent examples show. In other countries, like Russia and Turkey, educational institutes are far quicker to embrace this type of software.

According to a news report on the web site of the German daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, Marcus Alig, a student at the Ballenstedter Gymnasiums in the German city of Ballenstedt has estimated his and neighbouring school can save thousands of euro if they would only switch from proprietary software to using open source applications.

Concluding a two-year research into the topic, Alig estimates that migrating twenty users will save a school about 25,000 euro. This is taking into account acquisition and licensing costs, migration cost and even the price for training users, the newspaper reports.

The Italian city of Pontedera has just installed 45 new PCs running open source in computer labs in three schools. Teachers are being instructed how to use the GNU/Linux based systems, according to a report on the website of Radio Nostalgia. It quotes analyst Stefano Tognarelli: "Our goal is to increase the use of open source software by young people and by public administrations."

In the United Kingdom a two-year project was launched this summer to make schools aware of open source and support them when they adopt and use this type of software. The project, 'open source schools', is funded by Becta, the British educational IT agency.

Add to this the projects in Paris, France, where at the beginning of this school year 175.000 students were given USB-keys preloaded with open source applications, and these recent examples show that more schools are considering open source. Yet the uptake of open source in the EU is in stark contrast with for example Russia. Next year, all schools in this country will have open source installed on all school PCs. The EU's embrace of open source also compares poorly with that in Turkey, where it was made part of the school curriculum and all PCs in schools computer labs have GNU/Linux installed alongside Microsoft Windows.

More information:

Ballenstedt news item (in German)

Pontedera news item (in Italian)

Open Source Schools