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<html newsdate="2011-11-07">
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<title>Unlocking education, for growth without limits</title>
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<h1>Dutch government hands over education's keys to Microsoft</h1>
<p> The Dutch government wants to tie the country's schools to
a single software vendor for years to come. Dutch students using Free Software
or devices without Silverlight-support will find themselves locked out of
schools' online systems due to the use of proprietary technology and closed
standards. Marja Bijsterveldt, the secretary of education, recently said that
she is <a
href="http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/bestanden/documenten-en-publicaties/kamerstukken/2011/10/28/beantwoording-kamervragen-gebrek-open-standaarden-voortgezet-onderwijs/beantwoording-kamervragen-gebrek-open-standaarden-voortgezet-onderwijs.pdf">unwilling
to enforce the Dutch government's own Open Standards policy on educational
institutions</a>. Instead, the government will accept long-term vendor
lock-in of educational institutions. </p>
<p>For Free Software advocate Jan Stedehouder this emphasizes the need for a
stronger and more robust Open Standards policy framework. Therefore Stedeholder
initiated the Dutch campaign to make the use of Open Standards mandatory in the
public sector and to ensure vendor-independent access to all online service of
publicly funded organisations.</p>
<p>The organisations and individuals supporting the campaign demand:</p>
<ul>
<li>to strengthen the Dutch action plan "Netherlands Open in Connection"
by making the use of Open Standards truly mandatory for all publicly-funded
institutions</li>
<li>to make vendor-independent access to all online services and
information mandatory for all publicly-funded institutions, in this case,
educational institutions;</li>
<li>to promote innovative education in IT-skills by broadening the
educational program with vendor-independent skill-sets.</li>
</ul>
<p>"The policy framework approved by the Dutch Parliament in 2007 was an
important, internationally acclaimed achievement", says Stedehouder. "But
political barriers have meant that this policy hasn't been implemented. As a
result, students, future knowledge workers, are still locked in proprietary
technology."</p>
<p>Stedehouder highlights that students who complain about being locked out of
their school's system are being advised to buy the proprietary Microsoft
Windows operating system. "This behaviour is not only unacceptable but also
illegal. Our campaign aims at passing new legislation to ensure the mandatory
use of Open Standards in education, to make sure that students have access to
the free technology they deserve", says Stedeholder.</p>
<p>The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) supports the <a
href="http://www.janstedehouder.nl/category/petitie-ictovergewicht-onderwijs/">Dutch
campaign </a> which is gaining traction and has received endorsements by <a
href="http://www.nllgg.nl/">NLLGG</a>, <a
href="http://www.lpice.eu/nl/home/persberichten/steunbetuiging-en-oproep-voor-actie-ict-onderwijs.html">LPI Netherlands</a> , <a
href="https://www.nluug.nl/">NLUUG</a> and <a
href="http://www.hcc.nl/">HCC</a>, and almost 900 individuals. The Dutch
parliament shares the disappointment with the way the Open Standards policy
framework is implemented in education. Mark Lamers, coordinator for FSFE
Netherlands, says: "Now it is time to act for everybody who is in favour of a
free competition in the software market, and of course all Free Software
advocates: Support this campaign!" </p>
<p>"Though this problem is all too common around the world, the Dutch
government's stance is particularly disappointing", says Karsten Gerloff,
president of FSFE. "The Netherlands have some of the most progressive policies
on Free Software and Open Standards in the world. But the education ministry
utterly fails to implement them. I can well understand that Dutch
parliamentarians are dissatisfied and want to push for a more robust
policy."</p>
<p>More background information and up to date information on this topic are
available on <a href="/activities/nledu/nledu.html">"Unlocking education, for
growth without limits"</a>.</p>.
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