*All* Russian Schools to Use Free Software


I've often lamented how few schools in the UK use free software, and how difficult it is to break the lock that Microsoft has on the entire educational system. The pathetic state here is highlighted by contrast with Russia, which is making amazing strides in rolling out open source to schools.

It began with a few pilot projects, and apparently these have been so successful that the Russian government has now decided to make it the standard for *all* schools:

До конца 2009 г. на всех школьных компьютерах будет установлен пакет свободного программного обеспечения (ПСПО). Об этом, как передает «Прайм ТАСС», сегодня сообщил министр связи и массовых коммуникаций РФ Игорь Щеголев на пленарном заседании «Информационное общество и современные технологии доставки информации» в рамках международной выставки «ИнфоКом-2008».

[Via Google Translate: By the end of 2009, all school computers will be installed package of free software (PSPO). This is how transfers «Prime-TASS», today announced Minister of Communications and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation Igor Shchyogolev at the plenary session «Information Society and the modern technologies of information» in the international exhibition «InfoCom-2008».]

This isn't just an option for those brave souls who might want to try something different: this is now the official approach. If schools want to use proprietary software, they have to pay for it themselves:

Министр также отметил, что к 2010 г., как ожидается, число используемых в школах компьютеров достигнет миллиона. По словам Щеголева, по истечении трех лет школы смогут сделать выбор: использовать платные лицензионные программные продукты, приобретая их за свой счет, или перейти на отечественное свободное ПО.

[Via Google Translate: The Minister also noted that by 2010 it is expected that the number of computers in schools will reach a million. According to Schegoleva, after three years of school will be able to make a choice: pay royalties to use software products, buying them at their own expense, or go to the domestic free software.]

Put like that, free software is an offer you really can't refuse. Now, if only the backward UK could learn from those trailblazing Russians....

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