[Linux-aus] Edexpo - Getting some airplay for Linux in education

Con Zymaris conz at cyber.com.au
Sat May 7 10:23:02 UTC 2005

On Sat, May 07, 2005 at 11:41:00AM +1000, Jonathan Oxer wrote:
> A report that may arrive just in time to use as ammunition for either
> Edexpo or the national education procurement agreement debate:
> http://www.tes.co.uk/2094985
> "Primary schools could cut their computer costs by nearly half if they
> stopped buying, operating and supporting products from the world¢s
> largest software company, government research has found."
> "Secondaries could also slash their information technology overheads by
> a quarter if they moved away from Microsoft and other commercial
> programs, according to an analysis carried out by the British
> Educational Communications and Technology Association, the Government¢s
> ICT agency."
> Cheers   :-)

(cc:d to osia-discuss as this topic is being covered there too)

Here's the rub.

Most primary & secondary schools (government ones at least) don't care.

You see, they effectively pay nothing for their proprietary software.  
Their 'owners', the respective Departments of Education do. And the
mandarins (great word Bruce, thanks ;-) therein don't like anything that
rocks the boat and are thus greatly threatened by FOSS.

Which is why you find that in almost all circumstances, the Departments of
Education in each state are also the most pro-Microsoft. 

I've heen trying for over two years to make headway with them. They tell
me that they are scared of doing anything which will upset Microsoft. It's
hard to believe this line of reasoning applying to any other realm of
government procurement. Or any other realm of business transaction that 
doesn't involve organised crime.

Further, if these Departments of Education suddenly stopped paying for
proprietary software and switched to FOSS, the schools know they would see
none of the purported savings.

In fact, the school teachers also know that they would suddenly need to
learn a whole swag of new tech, with minimal time and support, with no
real incentives to do so.

Therefore every report commending the advantages of FOSS for the education 
sector falls on deaf, disinterested and frightened ears.

What this means is that unless there is action from the absolute top, 
there will never be any action.

This is why we are talking to (or trying to talk to) each state's 
Ministers of Education, but also their opposite numbers. And if those 
discussions don't work, then it's time for the talk shows and mainstream 

(Private schools are another story and waiting for you call. Go sell them 
a solution.)

Con Zymaris <conz at cyber.com.au> Level 4, 10 Queen St, Melbourne, Australia 
Cybersource: Australia's Leading Linux and Open Source Solutions Company 
Web: http://www.cyber.com.au/  Phone: 03 9621 2377   Fax: 03 9621 2477

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