Computerworld is featuring a story on initiatives in the Philippines to ensure that every public school has at least one computer. While the program has now expanded to provide most schools with a small lab, a server, and Internet access, the most notable feature of the program is the use of Linux on all of the machines.
The Philippine government initially attempted to deploy Windows computers several years ago, but a lack of training for teachers and students meant that they weren't used. A local consultant convinced the government that a second iteration of the program could benefit from the use of Linux. According to Ricardo Gonzales,
"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. Because we saved so much [by using Linux] we gave the government 3000 additional units, so now another 300 schools have Linux networks," Gonzalez said.
Another thousand schools are being added to the program, this time using Kubuntu and Edubuntu, for a total of 23,000 computers. While the program appears to have been quite successful, Gonzales notes,
"If Linux and open source wants to take hold in the education market it must deliver course material for high schools and elementary schools."