A-Z of computing: I is for Italy

– and its attitude towards open source. We wrote yesterday of Italy’s recent law paving the way for open source in public administrations, following similar rulings having been made in several Italian regions. Further discoveries included the open source competence centre, a joint venture between three universities and an engineering centre, and now we read that Umbria is promoting open source in schools.

Crucially the investment of 100,000 Euros from the European Social Fund includes training teachers and education managers in the use of open source, as well as students. Maria prodie, Umbria’s very enlightened Councillor for Education, had this to say:

Just like ideas, software permeates the social system and has ethical, economical and political consequences. It affects the culture in which the next generation is educated.

The UK government could learn a huge amount from this attitude, especially with the reform of ICT teaching such a current topic. The money saving element cannot be ignored either and is just as relevant to the UK as to Italy:

Provincial leader and political leader of the Civic Greens, Oliviero Dottorini, said the Open Source law should free up valuable economic resources in public administrations, schools and enterprise. “These currently spend a significant amount of money to buy or renew software licences.”

Italy is clearly ahead of the pack with its adoption of open source: as early as October 2009 35% of public administrations were already using open source. This attitude sums it all up and is to be emulated, referring to the adoption of a law in the autonomous Trentino region promoting the use of FOSS:

The law is intended to promote pluralism in information technology and “the elimination of every barrier created by the use of non-open source standards, in the service of the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.”

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