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FSFE signs Dutch manifesto calling for education improvements


Students should not have to use proprietary software to participate in the educational process. The FSFE joins the Dutch ‘Coalition Fair Digital Education’ supporting privacy-respecting solutions involving Free Software in schools.

Empty school hallway

The Dutch education system increasingly relies on digital systems for teaching. Currently most of these tools are proprietary software. As a result, students, parents, and teachers have lost control over their sovereignty and privacy. The strongly integrated solutions for online collaboration, school management, computer hardware, and educational content are a stranglehold that is nearly impossible to escape. It has become a precondition for education to get a user account at a big-tech company where one is tracked and has to use proprietary software.

Concerned parents, teachers, computer engineers, and defenders of digital rights joined forces to improve the situation. In a Manifesto Free children from the digital stranglehold, the ‘Coalition Fair Digital Education’ describes the situation and calls for changes on multiple fronts. Privacy of students should be guaranteed, sovereignty of schools should be restored, students should be taught skills instead of products, and systems should embrace Privacy by Design and Free Software.

Education is an area of concern for the Free Software Foundation Europe; the situation in the Netherlands is not unique. The FSFE supports ‘Free Software in Education’. The FSFE local group Zurich runs an awareness campaign, ‘Learning like the pros’, that tackled similar problems in the Swiss educational system.

The FSFE is one of the initial signers of the manifesto. The manifesto is the starting point of this coalition. Through contacts with teachers, schools, policymakers, and IT vendors, the group is promoting practical improvements within the Dutch educational system. The FSFE will continue supporting this new Dutch effort to lead a change that will benefit future generations. You, too, can give your support by signing the manifesto.