State is a leader in migrating schools system, to FOSS
By Anand Parthasarathy
Thiruvananthapuram, March 3 2017: Kerala's school education system has fully migrated to Free and Open Source software ( FOSS), making this arguably the largest such rollout globally in the educational arena.
Information technology has been a part of the High school curriculum in Keralaswince 2003 with IT being a compulsory subject at the 8th standard The shift to FOSS came in 2005 and two years became part of government policy across all departments. In August 2008, Government instructed all institutions under General Education Department to strictly use Free Software alone in all future teaching and training activities. With the decision of State Curriculum committee to implement Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) in Higher Secondary as well, the entire spectrum of Kerala education became 'Open'.
A July 2016 circular , directed all departments to cease the usage of proprietary software and to use FOSS. Asa a follow up, the Computer Science and Humanities sections in the Higher Secondaryshifted to Free Software. But in the Commerce section of Higher Secondary, use was being made of Tally package for Computerised Accounting System. This was on a Microsoft Windows platform.
That too has been addressed: revised textbooks will soon include Free Software applications such as GNUKhata which would replace the proprietary Tally software, Libre Office Calc and Base which replaces Microsoft Excel and Access applications
Says Anvar Sadath.K, Executive Director of IT@School Project: “IT@School is implementing mechanisms for easy classroom transition of chapters including customisation of applications, teachers training, video tutorials etc."
The Kerala IT@School GNU/Linux Operating System is a distribution based on Ubuntu and is pre-loaded in all laptops and desktops for schools. Beyond normal Operating System functionalities this is an integrated package that contains applications like Office packages, Database applications ,DTP, Graphics and Imaging software, Sound recording, Video editing , Animation packages, Integrated Development Environment (IDEs) for programming, Web Server & Database server, Geographical Information System ( GIS) etc. This also contains Educational software like Geogebra, Phet, Stellarium , Kalzium, Marble, Razmol, Gplates, Gcomprise, Pysio Game, Dr Geo, Celestia etc.The proprietary version of these software would have incurred a minimum cost of Rs.1.5 lakh per machine in terms of License Fee. Hence the minimum savings in a year (considering 20000 machines ) is Rs 300 crore.