Open source community pushes Canberra on school computer fund

Consider the options for maximizing value

Australia's open source community leaders have written an open letter to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling for consideration of free and open source software in the implementation of the Digital Education Revolution for the National Secondary School Computer Fund.

The letter, signed by 10 local open source professionals, calls for greater use of free and open source software in schools, particularly with the election promise of $1000 to fund a computer for every secondary student in the country.

A copy of the letter is published below.

The Hon. Julia Gillard, MP Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Education

Dear Deputy Prime Minister Gillard,

As leaders in the ICT industry we're excited by the government's commitment toward making a revolutionary improvement in Australia's education and training to world-leading standards. We're ready to "join the barricades" to assist in the interests of raising Australia's ICT capabilities in the global economy.

We urge you to consider the cost-saving implications of advocating the use of free and open source software in schools to further the aims of the digital education revolution and maximise the impact of this critical investment in the future.

Over the past two years we have seen a dramatic drop in price for basic computing hardware. Free and open source software represents a real opportunity for further cost savings, which would allow schools to use the $1000 per unit investment more flexibly and effectively.

Schools (and associated education authorities) concerned about the additional cost of ancillary services and infrastructure associated with the delivery of the National Secondary School Computer Fund should be encouraged to explore open source software.

Research consistently shows the total cost of ownership of free and open source software is equivalent, or lower, than for conventional proprietary applications.*

The time is right for schools to seriously adopt free and open source software and for the federal government to encourage a greater proportion of the $1000 to be made available for effective use of ICT and improved learning outcomes.

Please do not hesitate to contact Open Source Industry Australia or Linux Australia if you require more information about the use of free and open source software in Australia's education sector.

Yours faithfully,

Donna Benjamin - Education Spokesperson, Open Source Victoria.
Brendan Scott - Chairman, Open Source Industry Australia Limited.
Stewart Smith - President, Linux Australia.
Pia Waugh - Director, OLPC Australia.
Andrew Chalmers - President, Linux Users of Victoria.
Sridhar Dhanapalan - President, Sydney Linux User Group.
Max McLaren - General Manager, Red Hat Australia.
Karen Koomen - Government Affairs, IBM Australia.
Rusty Russell - Linux Kernel Developer.
Dr Andrew Tridgell - Samba Developer.

* For references see;

Sent by:
Donna Benjamin -
0418 310 414

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