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Free software groups urge Italy's Education Ministry to correct teacher test

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A group of 45 Italian and international advocacy groups of free and open source are pressing the Italian Ministry of Education to make its IT tests for prospective teachers platform independent. The ministry currently only tests their understanding of a single proprietary system. The groups urge the ministry to devise tests "closer to the realities of the IT world".

The ministry did not yet respond to repeated calls by phone and email seeking comments.

The initiative comes from the Italian professor Renzo Davoli, a teacher at the University of Bologna and president of Italy's Free Software group Assoli. In a letter to Education Minister Francesco Profumo, made public last week, Davoli criticises the questions devised to test the digital competence of future teachers.

The 'Concorso Docenti' (Teacher's Test) a web site made by the ministry, is misleading, contains improper language and contains numerous errors, Davoli writes. Of the almost 500 questions in the test, 54 cannot be answered correctly and 15 are seriously wrong. "But, above all, the set of questions has almost nothing to do with the assessment of digital literacy of candidate teachers. It is discriminatory in terms of technology and in particular in relation to the users of free software."

Professor Davoli protests that the questions focus mostly on ubiquitous proprietary applications. He explains that this contradicts the government's preference for free and open source alternatives, made explicit this summer in a change to Digital Administration Code.

Davoli's letter quickly got backing from many other groups involved in free and open source, both in Italy and beyond. Supporters include the Free Software Foundation Europe, the Italian Association for Free Geographic Information Systems, Wikimedia Italy and the Italian Linux Society.

More information:
Assoli's public letter (in Italian)
FSFE news item
Teacher's contest site (in Italian)