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OpenOffice.org deployed in Malaysian Schools


Just announced today (27 August 2008), The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) are working with the State Government of Terengganu to further increase the adoption of Open Source Software in government and schools. This is announced at the "Open Source Software Seminar for Accelerated Adpotion" held at Wisma Darul Iman, Terengganu.

OpenOffice.org in Schools Pilot launched today by the Chief Minister of Terengganu supports the increased adoption of OSS and deployment for the upcoming generation of Malaysians. OpenOffice.org is an Open Source software alternative for office productivity software. The pilot phase in the state involves deployment to over 100 schools since January 2008. From January 2009, all 467 schools will start using OpenOffice.org in the state.

What is interesting is that the pilot project began early this year with little fanfare, and now 8 months on, over 100 of Terengganu schools have already upgraded from their old office suites to OpenOffice.org. What will be interesting is the future impact this would have, ala Philippines.

This, however is stunning:

Over the next 2 years, the Ministry of Education plans to build on this initiative and deploy OpenOffice.org in over 300,000 PCs in schools throughout the country.

300,000 PCs in schools nationwide will have OpenOffice.org. Why?!!!

The savings in licensing costs, support for open standards and platform neutrality and increased security from threat of document viruses of this software will provide better delivery of education services by students and teachers.

Thats why! Costs, Open Standards and Security. I love it that the Government is finally understanding the term "platform neutrality"! They are finally understanding that the "Technology Neutrality" stance is actually a powerful means of procuring the best value product and not tied in to any one vendor. It is definitely not an excuse of being apathetic on issues which are important to Malaysia's interests.

300,000 PCs would certainly be the largest deployment of OOo in the country. Well done to the Ministry of Education for going ahead with this. What is encouraging in that this is not just a MOU type announcement; they have been doing this consistently over the year and are only announcing this when there has been significant progress in the "pilot project":

The Terengganu State government has also setup a community training centre that has trained over 20,000 state citizens with IT skills using open source software on 585 Linux desktops.

This news is wonderful, and it highlights the domino effect with OpenOffice.org as the catalyst, as a FOSS solution are increasingly being used by government agencies. As this builds momentum, vendors will not be able to resist the demand for OOo to be pre-installed on all their machines. Instead of the dreaded Microsoft "Works" (a misnomer; because "Works" doesn't work) pre-installed, it would be infinitely more useful if vendors pre-installed OpenOffice.org.

Razif_2 The project is being implemented with the support of the Terenganu State Education Department with commitment and financial support from the State Government of Terengganu through the Implementation Committee chaired by B. En. Ahmad Razif bin Abdul Rahman the director for the Science, Technology and Human Resources Committee for the State of Terengganu. The implementaiton of this project hopes to achieve increased knowledge sharing and innovation for computer users with the optimum license and minimal cost.

Its great to have forward thinking excos like En Ahmad Razif who has the will to drive initiatives like this.

Adoption of the open source office suite, OpenOffice.org for state government agencies is now official in the states of Melaka, Kedah, Pahang and Sabah. States like Melaka and Kedah have been deploying OpenOffice.org and OSS since 2003. Most recently Pahang State Government has issued a circular on the states intention for all state agencies to migrate to Openoffice.org. Combined they have saved millions in ringgit for licensing fees, expenditure now spent locally to provide better public services in their respective states.

If you ever get the question, "How do you make money from FOSS?", tell them that's the wrong question. Millions of ringgit saved. Well done MAMPU. Well done Ministry of Education. Well done State Government of Terengganu.

I wonder what Microsoft Malaysia thinks of all of this.

Perhaps they were too preoccupied with the OOXML saga last year to notice the major changes in government choices?

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