Kids go open-source :: the full story
UK government report approves open source software for schools
A strange step I think, and one that I certainly wasn't expecting - however, it seems like a good idea on the whole aslong as the kids don't have access to play around with the code
The report indicated that the use of open source software could produce total cost savings of 44% per PC for primary schools and 24% per PC for secondary schools, compared to standard commercial software PC configurations.
UK schools could be making significant cost savings from increased use of open source software, according to a much-anticipated report from the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, BECTA.
BECTA, which supports the various UK government education departments in information technology developments, came to its conclusions after comparing costs at 48 schools, including 15 currently using open source software, and 33 not.
The study was funded by the UK Government's Department for Education and Skills, and found that the annual TCO of a primary school PC using open source software was GBP 691.92 ($1,282), compared to GBP 1,228.04 ($2,275) for a non-open source primary school PC.
At secondary school level, the annual TCO of an open source PC rose to GBP 787.32 ($1,459), compared to GBP 1,035.70 ($1,937) for a non-open source PC.
Those figures were based on hardware, software, networking, and consumables cost savings, as well as training, formal support, and self-support savings at the primary school level. Among secondary schools, training and self-support costs were found to be greater for open source software PCs, while formal support was actually lower.
These are somewhat surprising findings given the lack of familiarity with open source software, although the BECTA study found that teachers in schools that used open source software were more positive in their assessment of their own IT skills, and more confident in their use of IT.
The report also noted in its conclusion that "the project schools indicated a degree of reliance on an informed and experienced 'champion' of OSS, driving the implementation as appropriate" and that migration to open source might not necessarily be the best option for all schools. It added, however, that: "the potential benefits clearly make it an option worth serious consideration."
The BECTA report followed up on previous UK government surveys that suggested the use of open source software in the public sector could provide a credible potential alternative to proprietary software.
Not-for-profit enterprise open source advocacy group OpenForum Europe welcomed the report, saying it proves that UK schools are getting a raw deal from their current suppliers. "This report underlines the massive opportunity that exists for all schools to get the best value for money from their IT budgets," said Mike Banahan, OpenForum Europe director.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius