[Fsfe-ie] Free software in schools

John Evans jevans at eircom.net
Thu Dec 11 17:11:37 CET 2003


I have some contacts on the IT committees of the various post-primary school
principals' associations. I had the idea of approaching these committees to
see if they were open to receiving a short presentation on the benefits to
schools of using free software.

In my letter I mention gnu/linux and StarOffice, and go on to outline some
putative benefits to schools. These benefits are my version of the benefits
listed by Stallman's article at


He argues for the *exclusive* use of free software in schools, a feature I
do not mention in my letter, as I do not think it is the most important
issue at this time.


Free software can save the schools money. Free software gives schools, like
other users, the freedom to copy and redistribute the software, so the
school system can make copies for all the computers in all the schools.

School should teach students ways of life that will benefit society as a
whole. They should promote the use of free software just as they promote
recycling. If schools teach students free software, then the students will
use free software after they leave.

Free software permits students to learn how software works. When students
reach their teens, some of them want to learn everything there is to know
about their computer system and its software. That is the age when people
who will be good programmers should learn it. To learn to write software
well, students need to read lots of software and write lots of software.

One of the most fundamental mission of schools is to teach people to be good
citizens and good neighbours--to cooperate with others who need their help.
In the area of computers, this means teaching them to share software. The
free software installed by the school could be available for students to
copy, take home, and redistribute further.

Teaching the students to use free software, and to participate in the free
software community, is a hands-on civics lesson. It also teaches students
the role model of public service. </BENEFITS>

I think there may be a positive response to such an approach.

This leads me to suggest that the working group (or whatever) that is
putting the IFSO together might put forward a panel or panels of individuals
who would be prepared to take part in presentations to such bodies as I
mention here, or to take part in meetings with MEPs etc, such as the
possible meeting with PdeRossa that I mentioned in an earlier mailing on

(I was a bit surprised that nobody seemed interested in replying to my
question: how do want to do this? Maybe I didn't make it clear enough that I
wouldn't see myself as being capable of making any kind of authoritative
statements on EUCD!).

Best Wishes

John Evans

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