An anonymous reader writes: UK Members of Parliament have identified Department of Education and Skills (DfES) and Becta policies as favouring proprietary software vendors thereby blocking the adoption of Open Source software by schools and colleges.
An Early Day Motion tabled by Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh, has called for a fair approach to ICT procurement in the education sector. The UK Government's own studies have shown savings of up to 60% can be made by schools and colleges using Open Source software.
Despite this clear advantage, some MPs believe the software procurement frameworks from Becta and official advice from DfES effectively locks out the use of free, Open Source software. MPs support for the Early Day Motion is the result of sustained lobbying by Open Source industry groups the Open Source Consortium (OSC) and Open Schools Alliance.
John Pugh MP, said: "Becta and the Department for Education and Skills, through the use of outdated purchasing frameworks, are effectively denying schools the option of benefiting from both free and open source and the value and experience small and medium ICT companies could bring to the schools market."
Iain Roberts, OSC Chief Executive said, "The DfES and Becta tell us they are treating Open Source software fairly but the procurement frameworks favour their established relationships with proprietary software brands." Mark Taylor, OSC President added: "Schools and colleges must keep pace with the adoption of Open Source software in industry or limit the employability of their graduates."
The Open Source Consortium is a trade body representing over fifty companies across the UK offering services around Free and Open Source Software. The Open Schools Alliance is an umbrella organisation bringing together companies, organisations and individuals concerned about ICT in UK education. These include SchoolForge-UK (representing educationalists), FFII UK (central to the recent campaign against software patents) and UKUUG (representing over a thousand IT experts across the country). The Open Schools Alliance exists to promote the greater use of Free and Open Source Software and open standards in UK education.