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13 August 2011

Public Education Software News - August 2011

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Public Software for the Public Sector
www.public-software.in

Public Education Software News
with support from UNESCO
Vol.1 No.2 August 2011
IN THIS ISSUE

         Update from the Public Software Centre
       Testimonials from public software users

         Resources of the month

         News

UPDATE FROM THE PUBLIC SOFTWARE CENTRE

Subject Teacher Forum, Rashtriya Madhayamik Shikshana Abhiyaan, Karnataka - The Public Software Centre (PSC) continues to work with government high school teachers, to create digital learning resources in Mathematics, Sciences and Social Sciences, using public educational software applications, through the Subject Teacher Forum programme of Rashtriya Madyamik Shikshana Abhiyan (RMSA), Karnataka. These teachers will, as 'State Resource Persons', train their colleagues in 15 districts across the state, over this year.

Public Software in higher education - At the invitation of the Department of Technical Education (DTE), Karnataka, and the National Institute of Technical Teachers' Training and Research (NITTTR), the PSC has participated in the syllabus revision processes for the fifth and sixth semesters of the courses offered by polytechnics under DTE. This revision identified and listed public educational software alternatives to popular proprietary tools used. Subsequently, the DTE and the NITTTR have asked the PSC to be part of the capacity building exercise, in line with the revised syllabus, to help teachers learn the identified public educational software tools. We have also worked on a pilot programme for MEI Polytechnic (Bengaluru), introducing the faculty to Ubuntu and these tools. A core group of faculty members are working with PSC to create video learning resources (called spoken tutorials) in different curricular areas. This activity is supported by the Spoken Tutorial project, part of the National Mission for Education through ICT (NMEICT), a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) programme to promote ICTs in higher education.

NEWS

The Draft Policy on Device Drivers for Procurement of Hardware for e-Governance of the Department of Information Technology, Government of India, discusses the need for device drivers on GNU/Linux operating systems. Since GNU/Linux is freely shareable and freely modifiable, implementing this policy would help government departments avoid 'vendor lock-in' into specific proprietary products only for which drivers are made available by the vendor. Read our detailed feedback.

Recent discussions about the choice of the software applications to be incorporated in the free laptops

distributed this year to students in Tamil Nadu (India) have highlighted the attempts across India to promote the use of public software in education and other fields. The state government's tender specifications specifies the GNU/Linux operating system, as well as Windows starter edition. There are pedagogical arguments for using only public software resources in education. Read more here.

The Indian Income Tax Return form ITR has successfully been migrated to public software (LibreOffice/OpenOffice) for the assessment year 2011-2012 and is available on http://freedom-matters.in. For the coming years, this initiative should be undertaken by the Income Tax department itself, in order to ensure its availability for all, and cover the remaining ITR forms as well.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has provided a list of public educational software alternatives to proprietary applications used in engineering. This is a welcome move by AICTE to promote public software in engineering colleges, which otherwise spend huge amounts procuring proprietary software licenses or pirate software.

UK government departments have been ripped off by a 'cartel' of big IT firms

, a report by a committee of UK Members of Parliament has exposed. Some were paying as much as ten times the commercial rate for equipment and up to 3,500 pounds for a single desktop PC. In its report, the public administration committee recommends that departments use more small and medium-sized IT suppliers to increase competition and bring down prices. The full article is available here.

In India too, departments often procure IT equipment at DGS&D (Directorate General Of Supplies & Disposals) rates. The rationale of DGS@D price ceilings are relevant when prices increase, whereas in case of IT products, the prices keep reducing. Kerala IT procurement on open bidding gets IT products at prices 30% lower than DGS@D rates. One more factor which will keep procurement prices low is to encourage SMEs to participate. Many bids specify very high turnover requirements, which restrains participation in bids to very large vendors only and therefore affects competition and pricing.

   TESTIMONIALS

“The Catalyst Group strongly believes in the ideology of public-software. Given the large number of clients and the varied type of work it engages in, full adoption of public software is gradual, with a number of challenges. However, we have successfully utilised public software applications such as Kdenlive (for making videos), Thunderbird (email client) and Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox (internet browsers) in our work. We use “project-open” as our ERP system. For new software that we need, we explore public software options. We thank Public Software Centre, ITfC for their support in helping us optimise the use of public software in our work.”

Ms. Siddhi Mankad, Catalyst Group, Bengaluru


“I have found your sessions very informative. They have got me interested in exploiting computers in my classroom transactions.”


Mary Kumari J, Lecturer (D.Ed), Bengaluru
Participant in our "Public educational software" workshop for faculty in
D.Ed institutions
which prepare elementary school teachers

      More testimonials here.

    RESOURCES OF THE MONTH

These black and white A4 posters are also available in Kannada. They can be printed and put on notice boards in public institutions to popularise and promote public software in public institutions. Lack of awareness about public software is the biggest obstacle to its widespread adoption by public institutions. These posters can create awareness through their simple messages.

Video of a presentation by Anvar Sadath, Director of the IT@Schools programme, Kerala (India), made at the Public software workshop in Bengaluru in February 2010. IT@Schools is the world's largest deployment of public educational software.


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By- Narendra Sisodiya

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