Teaching computer science to class 10,12 gets cheaper for Maha schools.


Computer education in Mumbai schools will become cheaper from this year. The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) has revised the class 10 and 12 Information Communication and Technology (ICT) syllabus to include teaching of open source software and operating systems (OS), instead of only Microsoft Windows and Office.

A notification issued by the board states that only one operating system shouldn’t be authorised with the monopoly to run the education system. This means that schools can teach students using open source software, which are available for free or less expensive than proprietary software like Microsoft.

So far, schools were spending nearly Rs15,000 per computer, because the textbooks were based on Microsoft operating systems only. On an average, each school — having at least 30 computers — spent more than Rs4.5 lakh annually for the software.

The Consumer Guidance Society of India had demanded that consumers (schools) should not be forced to purchase a particular software, but should be allowed to choose whichever they want according to their budget.

“We observed that ICT textbooks used to publish screenshots of the Microsoft software and questions were based on it, so schools had no choice but to buy it,” said M S Kamath, secretary, CGSI. The changes have already been made in the class 10 textbooks, but class 9 textbooks are still to be updated, said Kamath.

Additionally, Kamath said that teaching only Microsoft was restricting students’ knowledge. “We found that students faced problems in their work place as they were unfamiliar with any other software,” said Kamath.

Government aided or rural schools welcomed the move as they could not afford to buy expensive software and were opting for unlicensed versions of the software. But over the last two years, they have been receiving notices to purchase original software. “ICT expenses are not covered under non-salary grants provided by the government to aided schools. Our fees are low so we cannot even collect the money from parents,” said Father Jude Fernandes, principal, St Mary’s (SSC) School, Mazgaon, which is a partially aided school.


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