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45 organisations join in legal complaint to Ministry of Education

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A group of 45 Free Software organisations have signed a legal complaint to Italy's Ministry of Education. FSFE, AsSoLi, Wikimedia Italia, the Free Software User Group Italia, the Associazione per l'Informazione Geografica Libera (GFoss.it), the Italian Linux Society, LibreItalia and 38 other groups warn that the country's Ministry of Education is putting Free Software at an unfair disadvantage.

In a test to select prospective teachers, many of the Ministry's questions on IT refer only to a single proprietary operating system and its applications.

"Education is one of the most important areas of society. Our children need to understand how computers really work, and need to learn about sharing," says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "Free Software enables real, practical learning. Proprietary software has no place in schools, and obliging teachers to use it is irresponsible".

Professor Renzo Davoli, a teacher at the University of Bologna and president of Free Software group Assoli, has analysed the questions that were published on the Ministry website. In his report, he warned that the questions are only targeted at "knowing how to a use a particular computer, with particular operating system and particular applications". Davoli has proposed alternative questions that are closer to the realities of the IT world.

By pushing teachers towards proprietary software, the Ministry of Education may even be acting illegally. According to Italian law (D.Lgs 82/2010), public bodies need to try and obtain Free Software for their needs. They may only buy licenses to proprietary programs in exceptional cases.

In their complaint, signing organisations ask the Ministry to review the questions for the teachers' test. The ministry is required by law to answer to the complaint within 30 days.

FSFE, Assoli and the other organisations signing the complaint wish to support Italy's schools in better teaching their students about IT issues.