When Will They Ever Learn?
Published 16:25, 18 April 08
As already mentioned below, one of the abiding mysteries is why the UK's adoption of open source is so pathetic when compared to our continental cousins. This is pretty much across the board: in industry, government – and education. Sadly, the last of these looks unlikely to get much better according to this:
The planned £4.5bn schools IT revamp today faces a barrage of criticism.
The government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative has provoked a fierce reaction from IT managers who believe they will be dictated to by local education partnerships comprising local authorities and private sector suppliers.
These partnerships mean they will be steered away from open source software and concede control of procurement.
It is truly tragic that education in this country remains locked into proprietary software. Leaving aside the money that could be saved by deploying free software, there is a larger, and in some ways even more important, issue at stake here.
By definition, proprietary code from Microsoft and its ilk is closed: you are not supposed to peak inside the magic black box. And yet education, also by definition, is precisely about peeking inside life's black boxes. Forcing proprietary code down the throat of schools and their pupils is a fundamental negation of the amazing process of exploration and opening-out that learning should be. Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that the UK's school system is widely regarded as regimented, exam-obsessed and uninspired, or that British children are the unhappiest in the Western world.