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EducationCase StudiesArgentina → Escuela Cristiana Evangélica de Neuquén (ECEN)

Escuela Cristiana Evangélica de Neuquén (ECEN)

The following information was extracted from a report submitted to us by ECEN Elementary Teacher Debora Badilla Huento. Her commitment played a key role in raising Free Software awareness and ultimately getting the school to migrate.

Location

City of Neuquén, capital of the Province of Neuquén, in the Argentine Patagonia Region.

About

We are a private Christian school providing education from pre-elementary to high school levels in accord with state educational requirements.

In Argentina, each province develops its own educational policy. In the case of the province of Neuquén, teaching computer science at elementary schools is not obligatory. Actually, computer science is an extracurricular subject.

Motivation

Our school advocates the ideals of solidarity, honesty, excellence in education, the observance of law, the constant search for truth, justice and love in all daily activities. Using and teaching proprietary software was in contrast with these values. School directors and teachers were also overwhelmed by software license management and by the many restrictions that the terms of those licenses imposed on the school.

Educational quality and long term goals were also taken into account during the decision process. It is our understanding that training students on how to use a specific brand of software is far from the mission of a school.

How We Did It

The whole process lasted four years: we started in 2006 with all our work stations using proprietary software and concluded in 2010 with full free operating systems and programs in all the school's computers, including the administration offices and the library.

The plan consisted mainly of several measures aimed at raising awareness about the philosophical, ethical and socio-political implications of the use of technology. This fundamental aspect was maintained and underlined during the whole process and put into practice by the gradual substitution of existing proprietary programs with Free Libre Software programs.

During the first year we introduced some theoretical courses, namely "Computer Science History" and "Introduction to Computer Architecture". We also covered the legal aspects of software such as the various types of licenses, and we talked about the commitment of Free Software users and developers to the community.

Training courses were given to high school level teachers in the IT and all other areas, to teachers of the elementary level, to the Board of Directors and administration staff, and to the librarian.

The following human resources were employed to carry out the migration:

  • 1 Computer Science teacher for the pre-elementary and elementary levels. This teacher is also in charge of maintaining the computers in the classroom and qualifying other teachers and school staff in the use of the operating system.
  • 5 Computer Science teachers for the high school Level.
  • 1 PC and network technician in charge of repairing the computers of the high school level.
  • 1 Free Software programmer hired to write the Administrative Management System.
  • 1 IT Professor hired to qualify the school staff.

Migration costs were affordable and well within the school's budget:

  • PC Repairs: In 2006, ECEN hired a computer technician who was provided with Free Software documentation and a DVD of the operating system in use. The school has been working with him since then.
  • Training: 60 training hours to qualify the school staff.

Commitment to Free Software

As of 2010, we are using fully free operating systems, non in dual boot, as follows:

  • 22 PC in the pre-elementary and primary classrooms (4-12 years old students)
  • 24 PC in the high school classrooms (13-17 years old students)
  • 7 PC in the administration offices
  • 3 PC in the library
  • 1 notebook in the video classroom

Some of the Free Libre programs we use are:

Results

We found the migration experience quite positive and we decided to adopt a Free Software environment for all work stations. In October 2009 the school sponsored the Software Freedom Day in the city of San Martín de los Andes.

Although it required dedication and perseverance, the process was pleasant. Now we disseminate what we've learned in order to help other educational communities.

We would like to express our appreciation for the excellent work done to all the people involved in the migration effort.

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