Converting all educational institutions to use open source software in Sri Lanka

Recently, I read this post about Richard Stallman’s (RMS) visit to India. I then decided to educate myself about how RMS’s visit impacted India. I read this very, very interesting thing that happened in Kerala. An excerpt from wikipedia:

In August 2006 at his meetings with the government of the Indian State of Kerala, he persuaded officials to discard proprietary software, such as Microsoft’s, at state-run schools. This has resulted in a landmark decision to switch all school computers in 12,500 high schools from Windows to a free software operating system.[45]

Then, I was wondering why this did not happen in Sri Lanka? If it did I’ve never heard about this. All open source Operating Systems are now usable enough for even novices to use it, and most of the software available for it is free.

This would be a brilliant move, not just to cut costs but to ‘fix’ our future generations. Every school child that is above 13 is able to program with his knowledge of basic algebra and such, if he or she has proper guidance. The use of Open Source Operating Systems allows all these children to have access to all development tools for free (Eclipse, vim, emacs, etc.), thus forming a generation with a high computer literacy rate. The other advantage of this is the low barrier to entry in the software world. How cool would it be to see a 15 year old in Sri Lanka creating this amazing app for Android and making a multi-million dollar business out of it? This move would not just make children more computer literate but also allow talented kids to build their entrepreneurial skills as well.

I hope that the leadership in this country grabs this opportunity.

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