23,000 Linux PCs forge education revolution in Philippines

Linux still cheaper than heavily-subsidized Microsoft products

Providing high school students with PCs is seen as a first step to preparing them for a technology-literate future, but in the Philippines many schools cannot afford to provide computing facilities so after a successful deployment of 13,000 Fedora Linux systems from a government grant, plans are underway to roll out another 10,000 based on Ubuntu.

Visiting Australia to discuss Linux and open source software in education at this year's linux.conf.au in Melbourne, independent open source consultant Ricardo Gonzalez, said there were a number of factors that led to Linux being chosen over the venerable Microsoft Windows.

Gonzalez, based in Manila, told Computerworld Linux became popular in the Philippines soon after the 1997 Asian financial crisis when open source was investigated for its value proposition to organizations.

"Open source was a viable business alternative because no one was doing it commercially," Gonzalez said.

While Gonzalez was teaching the IT dealer network how to profit from open source, Microsoft launched its anti-piracy policy in the Philippines, so he told the government there was an alternative.

Also at the time, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education launched the PCPS program, or PCs for Public Schools with the aim of providing one PC for each of the 10,000 public high schools in the country.

With funding from the Japanese government, the PCPS program started around the 2000 timeframe when the contractors installed Windows PCs, but five years later it was discovered a lot of the computers were not being used because nobody knew how to use them.

A company by the name of Advanced Solutions Inc (ASI) asked Gonzalez to come on board as a consultant as it was preparing to do bids for 1000 schools. However, this time it would not be only desktops, but one server, 10 desktops, and Internet connectivity in every school.

"We wanted to use Fedora 5 and it went all the way to office of [the Filipino] President and they kept passing it around saying 'why would they offer something for free, and how would they support and teach it'," Gonzalez said. "The project dragged on for four to five months to a point where Microsoft matched the price by offering Windows XP for $US20 a copy and throwing in Office for $US30, but we still came out cheaper. Microsoft was also providing free training to high school teachers."

More about ASI SolutionsDepartment of Science and TechnologyDepartment of Trade and IndustryFedoraIBM AustraliaLenovoLinuxMicrosoftUbuntu

7 Comments

Anonymous

1

Linux even 100 times cheaper than what you think!

Linux still cheaper than heavily-subsidized Microsoft products. Though, It should have been even 100 times CHEAPER applying with the new Linux Multidesktop Technology.
Linux Public Computing Operating System, yet a new terminology many should cope with. Does it work really? See more:
* http://www.canada.com/northshorenews/news/home/story.html?id=4dad2598-2285-4e37-9498-2bc102d07e80
* http://blogs.pcworld.com/communityvoices/archives/2007/10/linus_not_ready.html
Public Computing occurs whenever computers are deployed for use by the public, by "untrusted" users, or by transactional workers. The key issues at public computers are privacy protection, system security, and manageability. Users find Linux Multidesktop approach friendly, secure and worry free! It is ideal for Schools, Universities, Libraries, Community Centres etc...

Education in the Philippines Forum

2

Misconception about free software

"why would they offer something for free, and how would they support and teach it"

I would expect this to be said by any of the DepEd officials, even (or esp.?) those in the top ranks. Apparently many (most?) people in the Philippines, esp. those handling positions of influence, do not yet understand the true nature of the open source and free software movement.

welcy

3

Supply Computer to Public Schools

Hello,
To whom it may Concern:
I just want to clarify about this supplying Computers to Public Schools. Is it all over Public Schools in the Philippines or it is just in Manila or I mean in the big Cities?
I Graduated in Port Barton National High School in the year 1989. The School is doing really well as of now and we had so many successful Graduates in this Schools: like Nurses, Midwife, Engineers, Accountants, this is just to name a few.
So my question is would you be able to supply at least 6 Computers into the getting larger Schools of Port Barton, both High School and Elementary. We had about over 5 thousand Population in this tiny Village with some little Islands as well. The Children's are really ignorant when it comes to computer. So if you could help them I think it would be so wonderful. I would really appreciate it if someone could get back to me on this matter.
By the way my name is Welcy Padilla Rowed, I am currently residing in Banff Alberta Canada for 15 years now. I am not a Computer Expert but at least I know the Basic of it. I used computer a lot in my Job as a Cashier in the famous Hotel of Canada The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel which was built in 1898. Please get back to me, I would like to help in any way to the Children over there.

Bohol

4

Is this program available over all Philippines? What are the requirements to avail?

Anonymous

5

Just curious, how are the recipients of Linux PC Desktop talk about their experiences with the deployed systems by advanced solutions? Are the school's level of literacy to teach and support the Linux systems improving? Any performance metrics available to measure what are claimed to be a success? How are the DepEd schools able to run most of the Windows based application for curricular integration?

Anonymous

6

The contradiction arises from the a situation where the issued laptops are OEM for Windows OS and applications. Some of those who advocates Linux have duality of life. In person they have mac or vista notebook. In public, they distribute linux to the poor.

Anonymous

7

If the claim is true, how come the public computing centers are running Microsoft Windows? How come public computing entrepreneurs are not talking of profitability raised by using Linux as cheaper means to run the computer desktops being offered to the public for internet access, games, desktop publishing, etc...?

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