Bringing open source software to schools

Metropolitan, together with the Shuttleworth Foundation, Inkululeko Technologies and the KZN Department of Education, has installed an Open Source computer centre, known as a tuXlab, at the ZamaZulu Secondary School in Pietermaritzburg.

The tuXlabs installation includes twenty new computers, hardware, operating system, application software and curriculum content for the school.

"Many of our learners come from very poor backgrounds and cannot afford tertiary education. However, with this new installation, they can focus on maths and science, which will help them become employed one day," says Phumzile Ngcobo, principal of the school.

The project uses Open Source software and open content to drive capacity amongst educators, imparting basic computer skills to both educators and learners. This means that users may freely copy and distribute the software.

Hilton Theunissen, corporate affairs and business development manager at Inkululeko, says this makes the tuXlabs an ideal platform to provide cost-effective access to IT and educational Maths and Science content.

Says Theunissen: "Schools nationally will have the freedom to replicate the tuXlab model without requiring authorisation, which means that teachers and learners can install the software and content at home or neighbouring schools."

Theunissen says Inkululeko, with support from its funders, hopes to implement a tuXlab in every Dinaledi school in KwaZulu-Natal by 2007. The tuXlab model is designed to involve community members and learners in setting up the systems.

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Bringing open source software to schools