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India’s First Government arm converts into FOSS

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With the Curriculum Committee giving nod for adopting free software in Higher Secondary level too, the General Education Department has become the first Government arm in the country to convert completely into FOSS (Free and Open Source Software). IT education in Higher Secondary level and e-governance programme in the Department will now be changed into free software with the assistance of IT@School project. The Curriculum Committee that met here on November 12 had taken a decision in this regard. Till date, proprietary softwares were used for teaching computer science and computer applications in Higher Secondary level. With the new decision of the Curriculum Committee, the IT@School will now have to develop special tools in open source for carrying out teaching and teachers' training process.

It was in 2007 that the Government Order came out insisting the use of free software for ICT education in schools. In 2008, around 15 lakh high school students in the State had been given their final examinations in open source, which was hailed as the first mega event in the world where free software was put to wider use. The hardware deployment that IT@School did in schools by spending INR 30 crore had helped the Government save INR 11 crore, the statement said. The transfer and appointment of teachers, the total physical fitness programme, pre-metric scholarship, mid-day meal scheme and many other projects were computerised by IT@School using free software. The Schoolwiki project launched on November 1 is another classic example of the use of free software in collaborative learning. Earlier, the software used to compile details of students sitting for SSLC examination and participating in the school youth festival was done in proprietary software. Even this has been switched to free software now for the first time. The new online application for school festival was tested in Perambra last week and had been found successful.

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