But what about the parents?

Posted on: April 20, 2007 - 23:44 By: carl

Lots of coverage of of a large US software company and their $3 software offer. One angle from the BBC Microsoft aims to double PC base and a slightly more cynical view from The Register Microsoft debuts Windows for the Poor. I'll leave you to pick your preference but I will elaborate on a post I made to one of those sites.

I do a bit of work amongst low decile education institutes here in NZ in the technology adaptation area, mainly kindergartens and childcare centres. During the training sessions they would rant a bit about how the NZ govt. deal with Microsoft didn't cover Early Childhood Education and how unfair it was as they had to fork out around $300 to get an academic use copy.

Apart from continually pointing out that the software is not gratis (it's been paid for by the NZ taxpayer) what I really try to get across is this:

Given that we have an education inclusion policy in NZ where parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in their childs education we need to ensure that they can in fact do that. As soon as the school provides a proprietary document format to the parents there is an implicit assumption that the parents or caregivers will have a legal, fully paid for, licensed copy of the program to read it. At $895.50(rrp) for Office 2003, in many of these areas this is just not the case.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter that the school or kindergarten or any other education institution can produce proprietary format documents pertaining to the childs education for zero cost or three dollars or a hundred times that. The parents in these poorer areas cannot in many cases legally participate in that process.

What message do we send the children when the parents have to perform a criminal act in order to just be parents?

The educators I talk to are almost unanimous in their uptake of things like OpenOffice and other F/LOSS once the benefits of the alternatives to them and their communities are outlined and demonstrated.

We even provide it for free.