The most ignored of all subjects in the schools in Kerala is COMPUTER SCIENCE. Yes! Students, as well as teachers, ignore “computer” as a subject to study. We were happened to market a world-class computer curriculum Kerala wide. It is during this time, we got the clear picture of the existing computer training in the state of Kerala.
Pathetic. That’s the most appropriate word to be used. When asked, a vice principal was saying, “We have not a computer teacher actually, our Physics teacher handles the subject since she is very clever in computer.” We just contacted her, and she has not even the basic clues on computers. Many of the schools say the same story ditto. Even though it is a BIG subject, no school managements consider it of the proper importance it deserves. Most of the public schools in Kerala follows their medium of instruction as English and thus the faculty of English is the best department in each school. Parents also are bothered only in developing the communications skills of their kids, and thus basic science and subjects like computer are unfortunately sidelined.
Majority of the Public Schools in Kerala still use proprietary tools for training the students while lots of its open source alternatives are widely available. Using the proprietary tools, they spent much and gain less. Recently while Microsoft Windows® XP stopped its support, some schools opted for Ubuntu Operating system. While the State Syllabus of Kerala has adopted open source technology a decade before as part of the “IT@School” project, the Public Schools are far away from its quality.
Today, a computer is not a device for expert jobs. It’s essential for our day-to-day affairs, so it should be treated in that importance. The entire curriculum should be designed keeping this fact in mind.
Happened to read an article about an elementary school teacher set up a computer lab with FOSS software running on it. He was accidentally found that GNU/Linux operating system and applications are effective for education. Though he is not aware about the philosophical aspect of Free Software, it is a great attempt to make it real.
Mr. Robert Litt was a teacher at ASCEND, a small arts K-8 school in the Alameda County School in US. His school does not have a computer lab, nor it has sufficient fund to make one. But Mr. Robert made a computer lab with his limited knowledge in zero cost. He collected some old computers from his acquaintances and installed Ubuntu on it with the support of local LUG. The core content of the article is a wonderful story of an elementary school teacher who accidentally found FOSS solution is good for schools and it is also good to run on old/obsolete hardware.
How One Teacher Built a Computer Lab for Free
In a sunny Bay Area classroom, twenty sixth graders are working at computers. They are making websites—”MySpace” pages for figures from American History. One student is researching Frederick Douglass’s five greatest accomplishments. Another is showing a classmate how to search for pictures of Susan B. Anthony. They’re all learning how to use Google Sites, helping each other along the way. Earlier this week, this class learned how to add numbers in a spreadsheet. Last week, they learned how to make music on a simple synthesizer. People often assume that getting technology into classrooms is expensive, but this lab cost absolutely nothing.
The article goes on.
Cost Vs. Freedom
Mr. Robert wants to spread his achievement as a zero cost solution, he does not focus about the freedom inside it. He does not aware about the “sharing” philosophy that GNU puts forward. He only wants to project its cost-effectiveness and workability. However this man made it real, a full-fledged computer lab with Free Software running on it. I wish all success to him on his way ahead. Let him learn more about GNU/Linux technically as well as philosophically. As he digested its cost-effectiveness and workability, let him know about the core value – FREEDOM. Mr. Robert Litt, be a great evangelist of Freedom and Free Software, our sincere wishes will always be with you.
The article has already gone viral. It is spreading through social media and emails. Even RMS commented on the original article.
PS: Kerala, a state in India, adopted GNU/Linux several years ago for its education system. The GNU/Linux distro made by Kerala Education Dept. is called IT@School.