Russia teaches the world about FOSS

Glyn Moody (See blogroll) has an absolutely cracking post on his Open Enterprise blog regarding a recent announcement from Russia. The really interesting bit for me is not the article itself so much, although it is indeed great news and very inspirational, but the comments that follow.

Firstly, the main story. It is that Russia has had such a successful time using Open Source software in some School pilots that the government have decided to roll it out across ALL schools in Russia.

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:

Read the full article to get further details.

Then scroll down the page and read some of the comments…

It starts with the first post saying we should teach M$ because that’s what business uses today. It’s the only “pro” proprietary comment and rightly gets pretty short shrift from every subsequent commenter.

But then a remarkable thing starts happening, which emphasises yet again, why Free Software is SO important in Education: In that it absolutely encourages innovation, inquisitiveness, collaboration, and – above all – learning from and with others.

Gala Kuznetsova said on Thursday, 23 October 2008

Today more than 1700 russian schools (~ 34 000 computers) migrated to free software. Additional information about this project: <>

Alex Besogonov said on Thursday, 23 October 2008

A little translation grammar nazism: “According to Schegoleva” should be “According to Schegolev” (“Shegoleva” is genetive case from “Schegolev”).

Helio M. said on Thursday, 23 October 2008

In Brazil, we soon have 50 million kid in school will use KDE/Linux which is modified in portogeuse for our country. As mroe and more kids become use to Linux, we have then more young developers/hackers who will be growing up in school useing free software and we will continue to have a free/free OS that will truly reflect our country but built at the base on a foundation of Gnu/Linux/KDE projects. We can share knowledge with the planet but have a distro (or more) that is us and whom we control. I think russians will like that. it is called selfdetermination.

anonymous said on Friday, 24 October 2008

It should be noted that what google translates as free has in Russian the explicit meaning of free as in liberty, aka open source.

Hilton said on Friday, 24 October 2008


We are pushing open source software usage in schools in South Africa – using edubuntu. The guy from brazil can you please make contact (inkululeko=freedom)

Ken Hansen said on Friday, 24 October 2008

Here in my US school district the technology teachers are *demanding* MS Office 2007access now, and they expect that MS Office 2007 will replace MS Office 2003 in next year’s district-wide system image. This despite the factt they have neither the training or classroom materials to properly teach students in MS Office 2007. The cornerstone of their argument lies in the frustration that we don’t have the same tools our kids have at home!

This is all great stuff:

  • 50,000,000 kids using Linux in Brazil!
  • South Africa asking Brazil to contact them to share their experiences.
  • A US School demanding they teach MSO2007 despite the fact they don’t really know *how* to teach it.
  • A lesson in Russian Grammar…
  • and the true meaning of the word “Free” in the Russian text.
It’s quite poignant how Ken’s post is the antithesis of the story I re-told recently regarding the child who’s family couldn’t afford to buy MS Office 2007…

The second, and far more worrying conversation, just shows what a total travesty it is that we continue to teach our children not how to use a computer as a tool, but instead teach our kids how to open and create a Microsoft Word or Excel document. Another visitor to our stand (and parent) was discussing the experience of a colleague whose child came home from school with some homework only to find he couldn’t open the files on his home PC as they were created in Office 2007! The family couldn’t afford to buy it – and why the hell should they frankly? This was obviously very distressing for the family and child concerned.

Our our schools now a sales channel for Microsoft I wonder?

The result of this kind of upgrade-treadmill that MS would love us all to live on permanently, is to create a two-tier system of education for our children: those whose parents can afford to buy expensive commercial software and those who cant.

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