[IAEP] [x-post] GNU Project renews focus on free software in education

Anish Mangal anish at activitycentral.com
Tue Jan 31 07:28:26 EST 2012


Just received a message on the fsf-info list about FSF relaunching the
GNU education project:

[1] http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/gnu-education-website-relaunch
[blog post]
[2] http://www.gnu.org/education/ [GNU Education website]


* * *

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Monday, January 30, 2012 -- The GNU
Project today announced the relaunch of its worldwide volunteer-led
effort to bring free software to educational institutions of all
levels. The new effort is based at http://www.gnu.org/education.

The newly formed GNU Education Team is being led by Dora Scilipoti, an
Italian free software activist and teacher. Under her leadership, the
Team has developed a list of specific goals to guide their work:

Present cases of educational institutions around the world who are
successfully using and teaching free software.

Show examples of how free programs are being used by educational
institutions to improve the learning and teaching processes.

Publish articles on the various aspects involved in the use of free
software by educational institutions.

Maintain a dialogue with teachers, students and administrators of
educational institutions to listen to their difficulties and provide

Keep in contact with other groups around the world committed to the
promotion of free software in education.

GNU and its host organization, the Free Software Foundation (FSF),
emphasize that free software principles are a prerequisite for any
educational environment that uses computers:

Educational institutions of all levels should use and teach free
software because it is the only software that allows them to
accomplish their essential missions: to disseminate human knowledge
and to prepare students to be good members of their community. The
source code and the methods of free software are part of human
knowledge. On the contrary, proprietary software is secret, restricted
knowledge, which is the opposite of the mission of educational
institutions. Free software supports education, proprietary software
forbids education.

In an article at
Scilipoti adds insights about the project's organizing philosophy,
current contributors, and progress so far. Of her basic motivation for
being involved, she says, "As a free software advocate and a teacher,
I always felt that the GNU Project needed to address the subject
specifically and in depth, for it is in the education field that its
ethical principles find the most fertile ground for achieving the goal
of building a better society."

In her article, Scilipoti also highlights some of the free software
success stories from around the world, especially Kerala, India, where
the government has migrated over 2,600 of its public schools to free

While the Education Team has already compiled a collection of useful
materials, they are also looking for more volunteer contributors.
People who want to help, or who have information about instructive
examples of existing use of free software in schools, should contact
education at gnu.org.

"Education really is one of the most fundamental areas we need to
focus on to achieve real social change," said Free Software Foundation
executive director John Sullivan. "We need to be acknowledging and
assisting schools that are doing the right thing, and helping those
who aren't yet on board understand why those giveaway Microsoft
Office, iPad, and Kindle deals aren't so great for classrooms after
all. We're very thankful to all of the Team members for stepping up to
meet this challenge. I hope others will be inspired by their work and
join the effort."

The Education Team has also been working closely with GNU's
Translation Team to make the new materials available in as many
languages as possible. People interested in helping with the
translation component of the project should see the information at

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to
promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and
redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and
use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating
system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free
software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and
political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites,
located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information
about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at
http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About Free Software and Open Source

The free software movement's goal is freedom for computer users. Some,
especially corporations, advocate a different viewpoint, known as
"open source," which cites only practical goals such as making
software powerful and reliable, focuses on development models, and
avoids discussion of ethics and freedom. These two viewpoints are
different at the deepest level. For more explanation, see

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a
free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only
operating system developed specifically for the sake of users'
freedom. See http://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.html.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for
one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under
the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux
formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for
the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination
is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see

Media Contacts

John Sullivan
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
campaigns at fsf.org


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