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MPs criticise government roadblocks to Open Source adoption in schools

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John Pugh MP, said: “Becta and the Department for Education and Skills, through the use of outdated purchasing frameworks, are effectively denying schools the option of benefiting from both free and open source and the value and experience small and medium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.”

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.