[fosscomm] MHRD draft policy on ICTs in school education says 'Free and Open Source software should be preferred'

Parminder parminder at itforchange.net
Sat Jul 25 20:51:44 PDT 2009

Hi All,

I think that the FOSSCOMM group should develop a response/ position on 
this draft policy. let us not underestimate the impact of a Govt Of 
India 'ICTs in schools' policy on FOSS scene in India. And also not 
underestimate how pro-active Microsoft must be on  this right now (also, 
Bill Gates is in town and hobnobbing with the minister of education).

Trust Microsoft to provide some very well rounded text to replace the 
one on open source software mentioned below - speaking about being open 
to alternatives and competing models etc - which would be difficult to 
resist if it comes with the kind of political backing that MS can muster.

Does anyone want to take up the task of framing a response from this group?


Parminder wrote:
> Some important points from FOSS point of view are as follow:
> The draft policy says 'Free ware, free and open source software 
> applications will be preferred.' . Very early in policy objectives is 
> speaks of creating 'an environment of collaboration, cooperation and 
> sharing'.
> It speaks of open and universal access to content at many places. In 
> fact it is one of the most recurrent theme. It speaks of 'creative 
> commons' licenses. Not sure, but dont think any GoI policy yet 
> officially refers to these licenses, though I may be wrong.
> However, in the end, as Guru's note points out it, mentioning a BOOT 
> model as the preferred one for implementation can be very problematic, 
> and can undo most of the progressive features of the policy.
> On the other hand, unlike the earlier draft last year, which took 
> Public Private Partnership as the central mantra, which was clearly 
> there to enable large software and content companies capture the 
> public education market, the part on PPP in the present draft is 
> mostly around non-profit and voluntary activities. Indeed, FOSSCOMM's 
> response to the policy draft can begin on this positive note of 
> offering help through volunteers, whenever and wherever possible, to 
> kick start teacher-training processes, since such training is stressed 
> in the policy.
> We can of course add a lot on how FOSS adoption can help 
> constructivist  form of learning apart from saving costs etc.
> Open standards are also mentioned in a few places.
> We can specifically seek that the policy makes it mandatory to first 
> consider FOSS for any area, and any other choice made should be 
> sufficiently justified, and taken only as an interim measure till..... 
> Something to this effect.
> parminder
> Guru ???? wrote:
>> Dear friends,
>> MHRD has released a new draft of the National Policy for ICTs in 
>> School Education (NPISE) recently (see 
>> http://education.nic.in/secedu/ict.pdf).
>> This document is far better than the earlier one released in Jan 08 
>> (see 
>> http://itforchange.net/media/NPISE/policy_wkbook_with_comments.pdf 
>> for the older policy draft). It clearly emphasises teacher 
>> professional development, local content creation, universal access, 
>> teacher pre-service and in-service training, ICT literacy as a 
>> precursor to ICT enabled learning etc.
>> While the earlier policy draft did not have even a single mention of 
>> FOSS, the current draft states in para 5.3.2 "Free ware, free and 
>> open source software applications will be preferred".
>> I have written 'some overall comments' on the policy in a 1 pager 
>> (see "Some overall comments on the NPISE 24.07.09 FOSSCOMM" 
>> attached). We request comments and subsequent endorsement from 
>> FOSSCOMM on this note. The last date for receiving comments is 29 
>> July, hence I request your comments and suggestions well before then, 
>> so that we can share the same with MHRD. We can also write to MHRD at 
>> the email id given in the bottom of the document.
>> Look forward to your comments/response at your earliest. Would 
>> request Narendra  if he can put this up on the FOSSCOMM wiki as well
>> regards,
>> Guru
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