More Than 60 Schools in Kaohsiung City Signed the Software Freedom Manifesto
Principals from more than 60 elementary, junior high, and senior high schools of Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, signed a "Software Freedom Manifesto" at the invitation of the city's Education Bureau on Sep 9 Thursday morning in a press conference. Also announced in the conference are the the upcoming events of International Conference on Open Source (ICOS), and the "mother tongue tux usb key" workshops designed for the growing population of Vietnamese mothers in Taiwan.
The manifesto places emphasis on fighting piracy using free software. It also mentions the creative commons license and the national document standard format CNS15251, a translated and re-labeled version of ODF the OASIS standard. Ching-Hwa Tsai, Director-General of the Education Bureau (the speaker in the photo) stresses the importance of the learning opportunities for all children as well as the importance of abiding by the intellectual property laws. He is also the first director of education bureau among those in all cities of Taiwan to recognize the importance of providing a mother tongue-friendly computing environment for the growing number of Vietnamese parents in Taiwan.
In the next couple of weeks, a workshop for teachers will be held, followed by 4 workshops for Vietnamese parents of school children. Teachers will learn how to create bootable Linux USB Keys and load them with the Vietnamese language support. The parents will learn how to use such "mother tongue tux usb keys" to browse the internet and to communicate in their own language, even if the computers accessible to them do not support Vietnamese input, since the non-mother-tongue operating system will be bypassed altogether. The four sites for parent workshops are specifically chosen to serve areas with the largest Vietnamese populations in Kaohsiung City.
Tyng-Ruey Chuang (3rd from right holding "Encourage Creativity"), chair of Software Liberty Association, Taiwan (SLAT), encourages principals and other audience to participate in the ICOS event. (Unofficial English Intro) He emphasizes the educational track of all three tracks and the participation of speakers in Kaohsiung who have been advocating the use of free software for a long time. In the 3-day event there will be booths where staff will help people create bootable Linux USB Keys from their own blank usb keys. Among all available versions, there will be ezgo 8, an ubuntu-based distribution tailored for the Taiwanese educational environment. This is a grass-root continuation of the work of Open Source Software Application Consulting Center (OSSACC), a project once sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan.
The long term effects of this move remain yet to be seen since the manifesto has no real binding powers. Yet it may very well empower the city government at least on the negotiation tables. It is interesting to note that the Education Bureau chose to hold the press conference in San-Hsin Vocational High School, a Microsoft School of the Future. Consider Microsoft's EDGI program, which has been curiously absent in Taiwan. Freedom and ethical questions of implementing Microsoft solutions aside, Kaohsiung City government can be in a much better position to negotiate for better prices of Microsoft products than any other city governments simply because of this move. In any case, the education bureau seems to be genuinely interested in the idea of the mother tongue tux usb keys. Hopefully the rest of the city government will learn from the education bureau that the mother tongue Tux usb keys has other applications such as Internet Cafe, ethical computer donations, and Computer LOHAS.
The text of the manifesto is available at Kaohsiung Information Technology Education Advisory Group as odf (also in English). Kaohsiung is the 2nd largest city in Taiwan.
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