The following report is based on information provided to us by the
The school is located in Irimpanam, an area close to the city of
Tripunithura, in the Ernakulam district of the
Founded in 1940, the Vocational
Higher Secondary School Irimpanam is a privately owned school aided
by the State. It offers instruction from Upper Primary to High School
levels (grades 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 respectively). Nearly 1,000 students
from 10 to 15 years old attend the school.
Our institution took special interest in promoting the main aspects
of the philosophy of the GNU Project, such as the freedom to share
knowledge and the freedom to cooperate with our community by
contributing improvements to computer programs. This awareness about
Swathanthra Software (1) was largely the
result of what we learned at the meetings organized by the
Indian Libre User Group
(ILUG-Cochin) in the nearby city of Kochi. Attending those meetings
also helped us to work in close connection with the Free Software
How We Did It
The migration to Free Software in our school was the result of a
project designed and established by the Government of Kerala, called
IT@School. The project,
started in 2001, involved several thousand schools in Kerala and in 2006
it switched completely to Free Software.
Students at a Free Software event organized by SSK VHSS Irimpanam.
Training courses for teachers were implemented by the government to
teach us the basics of the new Free Operating System and how to
install it. The new system was customized for the first time by
SPACE, an agency based in
Kerala that promotes the use of Free Software in the private and public
sectors. SPACE, as well as local Swathanthra Software users groups,
played a fundamental role during the process by providing constant
support to teachers. One of the workshops organized by SPACE helped us
to build the website of our school using Free Software.
Training was not limited to software, it also included teaching the
basics of hardware maintenance to teachers and students. In our school,
10 years old students know how to assemble a PC.
The use of Free programs in the classroom was facilitated by the
implementation of training modules aimed at instructing teachers on the
use of specific programs for teaching various subjects.
For example, there was a training module for teachers of Mathematics on
how to use Dr Geo
for teaching geometry, another one for teachers of Chemistry on how to
draw organic molecules using
Other training activities were conducted jointly by the school and
ILUG-Cochin to teach us the use of different Free Software applications
such as Blender, Inkscape, and the command line interface.
The school has also opened an
channel where students can ask questions about issues they may encounter.
Commitment to Free Software
At the beginning the new system was used on a dual-boot basis,
because we teachers were not familiar with Free Software, but we
soon got acquainted with it to a great extent. At present, no
proprietary systems are installed in any of our computers and no
proprietary programs are being used. Only Free Software is being used in
the classroom and in the administration offices.
We use a wide range of free programs in the classroom, such as
but there are many others.
Students are also introduced to the programming language Python as
from grade 8 (13 years old).
Listen to a student
pronounce the name of the Adeenia flower in Malayalam.
Education in the State of Kerala has become "IT-enabled", meaning
that students are getting first hand technology knowledge while learning
regular curriculum subjects outside the IT Lab. This is possible due to
the large number of high quality educational applications available in
The transparency and the cooperative method of Free Software helped
students and teachers to dive deep into technology and made them capable
of contributing to the community in various ways. One important
contribution was the localization of the interface of
Tux Paint in
Malayalam, our mother tongue.
Another contribution was the addition of new stamps in TuxPaint. Native
flowers were photographed and the pictures edited by 6th and 7th grade students
using the image editing program GIMP. The resulting images were then integrated
in TuxPaint with the name of the flowers written in Malayalam. As a plus,
students recorded with their own voices the name of the flowers, so when the
user selects one of the stamps, she will hear the name of the flower in
Malayalam. A video was recorded to illustrate how it works and how the activity
download the video. Read and
download the English subtitles in SubRip format.
Both activities were promoted by Swathanthra Software Koottayma of
(SSK VHSS Irimpanam), a Free Software group of teachers and students
based on the school. Its aim is to build awareness on the philosophy of
Free Software and to introduce new applications in GNU/Linux as a way of
contributing to the community. The group organizes monthly meetings and
it performs various kinds of activities to encourage its members to
experiment and explore Free Software so as to put into practice the
freedoms that it grants.
As a way of keeping in touch and sharing experiences with other
schools and with the Free Software community, teachers and students each
year participate in events such as the National Free Software Conference
and the Cyber Safe Day.
The commitment and the collaboration of teachers, students and local
groups was essential to the success of this large scale government
Credits for both images shown on this page, as well as for the audio
file, go to Swathanthra Software Koottayma of VHSS Irimpanam, who
released them under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.