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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  2. <html>
  3. <version>1</version>
  4. <head>
  5. <title>Unlocking the Dutch educational system</title>
  6. </head>
  7. <body>
  8. <p id="category"><a href="/activities/activities.html">Campaigns</a></p>
  9. <h1>Unlocking the Dutch educational system</h1>
  10. <div id="introduction">
  11. <p>We want to enable all citizens to have free access to education and all other
  12. public institutions, both online and offline. We wish to achieve this by
  13. pushing for a mandatory use of <a href="/freesoftware/standards/standards.html">Open
  14. Standards</a> and guaranteed platform-independent access to all materials
  15. required in the public educational system. This allows students and parents to
  16. use Free Software, enabling them to tap into their potential for personal
  17. growth and development, without being made dependent of a company. </p>
  18. </div>
  19. <h2>What do we want to achieve?</h2>
  20. <ul>
  21. <li>pursue the goals of the (unfortunately) discontinued action plan
  22. "Netherlands Open in Connection" by making the use of Open Standards
  23. truly mandatory for all institutions in the (semi-)public sector; </li>
  24. <li>make vendor-independent access to all IT services, school materials
  25. and necessary information a requirement for all publicly-funded
  26. (educational) institutions; </li>
  27. <li>promote innovative education in IT skills by broadening the
  28. educational program with vendor-independent knowledge, insights, and
  29. skill sets; </li>
  30. <li> avoid vendor lock-ins, monopoly abuse, and anti-competitive
  31. practices which take away civilians' freedom of choice within the entire
  32. public sector, primarily the educational system;</li>
  33. <li>avoid the forced acceptance of license agreements with commercial
  34. companies in order to be allowed to take part of the educational system
  35. and the rest of the public sector. </li>
  36. </ul>
  37. <p>In the Netherlands, students have been locked out of school computers, learning
  38. accessories, lesson materials, and required data for years due to the use of
  39. proprietary software. They are forced to purchase proprietary software just to
  40. perform the most basic tasks; such as handing in their assignments, receiving
  41. objectives, cooperating on projects, and passing exams. Many schools and
  42. especially universities oblige students to use or even own computers with
  43. non-free operating systems without any clear reasons for doing so. Moreover,
  44. this situation could become much worse now that 'laptop schools' and 'tablet
  45. schools' are on the rise, which, combined with compulsory education - of which
  46. the minimal age might be increased to 21 years - will not only make
  47. it hard to use Free Software in the educational system, but it would even
  48. make it illegal not to use proprietary software instead.</p>
  49. <p>The former minister of Education declared, in response to questions from
  50. Parliament, that she considered long-term vendor lock-in to be acceptable.
  51. Thereby she rejected the ambitious Dutch Open Standards policy framework and
  52. ignored the short-term and long-term consequences:</p>
  53. <ul>
  54. <li>the enforced purchase of proprietary computer technology just to be
  55. able to participate in public education is illegal and unconstitutional, as
  56. it takes away the right of civilians who do not accept the license
  57. agreements of non-free software to participate in the public educational
  58. system, which should be accessible for everybody without any obstacles or
  59. limitations;</li>
  60. <li>it limits educational institutions to offer only constrained,
  61. vendor-specific skill sets aimed at very few proprietary programs, rather
  62. than providing truly universal, independent theoretical knowledge;</li>
  63. <li>it reduces the innovative strength of the Dutch economy as the
  64. educational systems don't provide it with a sufficiently trained,
  65. technologically independent labour force;</li>
  66. <li>it forces Dutch companies, organizations, and governmental institutions
  67. to spend billions of euros each year on re-training personnel, doing
  68. unnecessary and enforced hardware upgrades, and paying unnecessary license
  69. fees.</li>
  70. </ul>
  71. <p>
  72. In the spring of 2012, after the cabinet crisis, the campaign went on hiatus,
  73. as obviously no new policies could be formed at that time.</p>
  74. <p>
  75. Early 2013 the campaign was revived after yet another letter was sent to the
  76. Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science; this time to new minister Jet
  77. Bussemaker. Her response was far more useful than the one of her predecessor,
  78. and has brought us closest to our ultimate target so far. In her <a
  79. href="">response</a>
  80. to questions from Parliament, she made the following clear statement: "All
  81. Dutch civilians have the right to take part in the Dutch educational system
  82. without limitations. This is also the case for Free Software users. No
  83. exception must be made for them." </p>
  84. <p>
  85. In reality, this promise is seldom lived up to. Although this campaign was at
  86. first initiated because of the many problems around the notorious online
  87. learning environment Magister, and the most recent campaign was yet again
  88. brought to life because of this, the problems are sadly much larger than only
  89. that. Nearly three quarters of the high schools in the Netherlands use
  90. Magister, a Silverlight program which is obviously completely incompatible with
  91. Free Software, but aside from that, there are huge problems concerning open
  92. document standards, such as ODF and PDF. Despite the fact that Mrs. Bussemaker
  93. literally said that schools are obligated to accept both formats, this is
  94. rarely the case anywhere. Students are very regularly forced to save their
  95. documents as DOC files, and usually face point deduction in case the lay-out
  96. proves to be problematic with the non-free office software installed on the
  97. school computers (which is unavoidable with closed standards).
  98. </p>
  99. <p>
  100. Moreover, it is impossible to follow any education at any Dutch university
  101. without being forced to use non-free operating systems and other non-free
  102. software, and thereby accepting the associated license agreements. Many courses
  103. even have owning a laptop with Microsoft Windows as an implicit admission
  104. requirement. Despite the fact that the current minister of Education
  105. "acknowledges the limitations in the license agreements of non-free software",
  106. educational institutions rarely, if ever, act upon that.
  107. </p>
  108. <h2>Background</h2>
  109. <p>Using proprietary technologies for public services is a deliberate choice for
  110. long-term vendor lock-in and forced contract acceptance. This should be
  111. prevented at all times; especially in education and the public sector at large.
  112. The FSFE wants to push the mandatory use of Open Standards and platform
  113. independence in the entire public sector; not just within Dutch legislation,
  114. but throughout all of Europe. The Dutch Parliament has been advocating the
  115. mandatory use of Open Standards for more than a decade; ever since the <a
  116. href="">resolution of Kees
  117. Vendrik</a> in 2002. This led to an ambitious and internationally acclaimed
  118. policy framework in 2007. Sadly, this achievement was hampered by the previous
  119. minister of Education. She refused to implement the policies, and because of
  120. that, schools continued to use proprietary technology and closed standards
  121. nearly exclusively. The result was that their students remained to be forced to
  122. use proprietary software of specific vendors and to accept the accompanying
  123. license agreements against their will.
  124. The response of the current minister of Education promises to be a lot more
  125. hopeful though. Even though there are many things left to do, her statements at
  126. least made clear that she agrees that the current situation is not what we
  127. should wish for at all. Using those claims, public educational institutions
  128. might finally understand that public education can hardly be called "public"
  129. when only the users of non-free software are accepted and welcomed.</p>
  130. <p>This campaign aims to bring about new and sturdier legislation which obligates
  131. the use of Open Standards and platform independence, and especially maintains
  132. it. That always remained to be the biggest problem: we do have the basic
  133. legislation, but nobody seems to care about actually enforcing it. The public
  134. educational system exists for everybody; not just for those who have no
  135. problems with using proprietary software.</p>
  136. <h2>How can I contribute?</h2>
  137. <ul>
  138. <li><a href="">Subscribe
  139. to the discussion list!</a></li>
  140. <li>Running this campaign in the long run, will cost money. A <a
  141. href="">financial contribution</a> will always be
  142. apreciated.</li>
  143. <li>Stand up for your civil rights: refuse to use proprietary software,
  144. whatever the school or university might say. They may never force you to
  145. use it.</li>
  146. <li> Write about your experiences. Politicians and journalists are better
  147. listeners than many people might expect. The more of us tell them that the
  148. current situation is problematic, the greater the chance that they will
  149. (quickly) take action.</li>
  150. <li>Spread the word, try to convince others, and especially hold on to your
  151. ideals; no matter what happens.</li>
  152. </ul>
  153. <section id="contact">
  154. <h2>Contact</h2>
  155. <p>Kevin Keijzer</p>
  156. <p><a href=""></a></p>
  157. <p>Hashtag #nledu</p>
  158. </section>
  159. </body>
  160. </html>