Kerala, the first 100% literate Indian state is not only known for its beautiful backwaters but also for its education policy which benefits everyone and not just one sector. And now, undertaking one of the most progressive educational reforms, this South-Indian state has declared to welcome open source in a huge way.
As per a report by The Hindu, more than 2 lakh computers in schools across the state will soon be powered by the latest version of the Linux-based free Operating System called as [email protected] that provides a variety of applications for educational and general purposes. The state-owned Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) has rolled out this new version which is based on the Ubuntu OS LTS edition and includes numerous free applications customised as per the state school curriculum such as DTP (Desktop Publishing) graphics, 3D animation packages, language input tools, video editing, Geographical Information System, image editing software, sound recording, database applications, open source office suite, and various others.
According to KITE, it would help the government of Kerala in saving ₹3000 crore. The Vice Chairman and Executive Director of KITE, K. Anvar Sadath while talking to The News Minute, says that if these applications would have been proprietary in nature, a license fee of ₹1.50 lakh would have incurred for each computer. However, [email protected] version 18.04 has been customized by KITE and offers a variety of educational software including GeoGebra, PhEt, Sunclock, GCompris, Stellarium, etc. Apart from this, the biggest advantage of the Linux-based free Operating System is its ability to be altered and shared.
According to Sadath, the FOSS-based LibreOffice instead of Microsoft Office, GIMP/Krita software instead of Adobe Photoshop Premier, and Inkscape instead of Corel Draw are some of the alternatives to the proprietary versions that cost thousands of rupees. FOSS gives the freedom to study, copy and share the source code whereas Proprietary code denies it even if it is given free. The applications like GeoGebra, PhEt, allow schools to use and customize source code according to the curriculum and requirement of teachers, reports The News Minute.
One of the key highlights of the applications in the new version includes the huge collection of Malayalam Unicode fonts that would help to compute in Malayalam. Various international free software such as Marble, RasMol, GPlates, ghemical, etc which used to teach various subjects using IT have also been customized.
The [email protected] Operating System (OS) would be installed in over 14,000 government and government-aided schools across the state, in over 2 lakh computers including 60,000 laptops as part of the Hi-Tech school project and 55,000 laptops as part of the Hi-Tech Lab project before the beginning of next academic session.
The Logical Indian welcomes Kerala government decisions to move to open source. Also, we hope that government schools in other states should have such facilities so that their students are better skilled in the job market.