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Online petition demands FOSS in Indian education sector

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With a view to mandate free and open source software (FOSS) within the education sector in India, an online petition has been launched by a Mumbai-based lecturer. The petition surfaced through online platform change.org recommends certain suggestions to the Central government and provides a draft for the new education policy.

“The idea behind this petition is to bring the national education policy on track and reiterate the very ideas which the ministry of human resource and development (MHRD) had emphasised many times,” Milind Oka, who started the online petition, said in a statement emailed to Open Source For You. The draft stresses at the cost effectiveness that comes from open source solutions.

Additionally, the petition signed by over 600 supporters lists the importance of transparency and information communication technology (ICT) for Indian students that comes from open source software.

Oka said that students can easily use open source solutions like Moodle for examination and time table management, GNUKhata for accounting, Scylab for digital processing, Libre Office for office suite, Ubuntu for Windows or GIMP for photo editing. Six other individuals participated with the college teacher to construct the petition, namely Krishnakant Mane, Prof Nagarjuna, Rishabh, J T Dsouza, Siji Sunny and Arun Khan.

“Being an OSS enthusiast I completely support this initiative. This is a very important step that our nation should embrace. India as a country should definitely understand the importance of freedom considering our legacy and battles it has fought in the past,” a supporter comments, favouring the petition.

Open source is vital for students

Use of free and open source software (FOSS) is already quite common in India. But when it comes to the education sector in the country, a large number of proprietary solutions are being used each day. This puts the cost and resource burden on many institutions and ultimately leaves hundreds of students away from the computing world.

“Students in early school should be exposed only to free software so that they not only learn to share but also get a complete hand of technology and learn to toy around it without fear of damage,” Oka added.

Reference from a past circular

The petition draft highlights a circular passed by the government in 2014 that referred to the preference of FOSS in the education sector. However, it recommends not just an additional clause to prefer the community-driven solutions for students in the country but to make open source software mandatory for educational institutions through the new education policy.