07 November 2011:
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Unlocking education, for growth without limits
We want to enable all citizens to have free access to education and all other publicly-funded institutions, both online and offline, by pushing for a mandatory use of Open Standards and a guaranteed platform-independent access to all online environments. This allows students and parents to use Free Software, and in that way being able to tap into their potential for growth and personal development.
What we want
- to strengthen the Dutch action plan "Netherlands Open in Connection" by making the use of Open Standards truly mandatory for all publicly-funded institutions,
- to make vendor-independent access to all online services and information mandatory for all publicly-funded institutions, in this case, educational institutions;
- to promote innovative education in IT-skills by broadening the educational program with vendor-independent skill-sets.
In the Netherlands, some students are locked out of online school environments due to use of proprietary web technology. They are forced to purchase proprietary software just to perform such basic tasks as handing in their homework, receiving assignments, cooperating on projects and passing exams. The Dutch Secretary of Education, in response to Parliament, states she considers multiyear vendor-lock acceptable, thus rejects the Dutch ambitious Open Standards policy framework, ignoring the short-term and long-term consequences:
- the enforced purchase of proprietary computer technology just to be able to participate in education is illegal and unconstitutional;
- it limits educational institutions to offer only constrained, vendor-specific skillsets for very few proprietary solutions;
- it reduces the innovative strength of the Dutch economy as the educational systems don't provide it with a sufficiently trained labour force;
- it forces Dutch companies, organizations and governments to spend billions of euro's each year on re-training, unnecessary and enforced upgrades on hardware, and license fees.
Free Software users have been encountering the problems with the use of proprietary technology and proprietary standards in education for quite some time now. This is an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with. Using proprietary technologies for public webbased services without giving good reasons for this is a deliberate choice for long-term vendor lock-in. This should always be prevented, especially in education and the public sector at large. FSFE wants to push the mandatory use of Open Standards in the public sector, not just in Dutch legislation, but throughout Europe.
The Dutch parliament has been advocating the mandatory use of Open Standards for more than a decade, resulting in an ambitious and internationally acclaimed policy framework in 2007. This proud achievement is obstacled by the Secretary of Education. She is not implementing the framework, so schools continue to use proprietary technology. As a consequence educational institutions are forcing students to use software from specific vendors. The situation is worse than in 2007 and needs to change now! This campaign aims at passing new and stronger legislation to ensure the mandatory use of Open Standards, not just in education, but in the entire public sector.
How can I contribute?
- Subscribe to the discussion list!
- Running this campaign in the long run, will cost money. So please donate to the campaign
- Sign the international petition
- Spread the word!
Mark Lamers and Jan Stedehouder