ESOP sends Open Letter to Government to promote Digital Open School in Portugal

ESOP sends Open Letter to Government to promote Digital Open School in Portugal

2020- 10- 26

ESOP - Portuguese Open Source Software Companies Association, sent an Open Letter to the Direção Geral da Educação (DGE) (Directorate-General for Education) to reinforce the concern with what has been happening in terms of technologies used in distance learning in Portugal.

This Open Letter is the result of several inquiries made with the DGE, all of them without any response.

The digitization of education in Portugal has revealed several challenges.The system was not prepared to work at a distance. Some schools managed to overcome adversity, but on the other hand many students ended up compromising their learning. ESOP proposes some solutions to make education in Portugal safer, more equitable and more open.

The Digital School will play an important role in the coming years. It is essential that its implementation takes place, ensuring the interests of schools, guardians and students, but also preventing future dependencies on suppliers and safeguarding the interests of taxpayers and the State. This is done with tools that respect the Open Standards, including the standards defined in the National Digital Interoperability Regulation.

In ESOP's understanding, an Open Digital School should guarantee:

  • freedom of choice of equipment and operating systems
  • the freedom to choose web browsing software (browser)
  • information security of equipment in use by students

To this end, two guidelines should be followed:

  • preferences for web applications with multi browser compatibility
  • preference for open source applications

The use of Open Source solutions is associated with security, transparency and faster evolution, since the code is open and reviewed by communities. In addition, web applications that do not require installation and operate in the security context of the web browser also pose a lower risk.

There are already good examples of governments that have chosen with the responsible choice that Open Source represents, as is the case of the French government that developed a platform based on Open Source software to ensure that all stakeholders within the education system have the necessary tools for the distance learning (more details of this initiative here).

In this sense, we propose some solutions that are already on the market, fully aligned with the guidelines suggested above:

Videoconferencing and web chat:

Distance learning platforms:

Productivity:

Unfortunately, what has been happening in Portugal is despite the existence of solutions compatible with the interests of the State, during the COVID-19 crisis, collaboration tools based on proprietary software proliferated. In addition to the lack of transparency and the tendency for higher costs of this type of solutions, some of the platforms used revealed successive security problems, which jeopardized the users' privacy. If the use of these types of applications is a legitimate individual option, the same cannot be said if such use is imposed or recommended by the State.

ESOP is available to support the Digital School transition strategy through many years of experience in implementing digital transformation processes for various types of institutions.

In addition to a previous statement issued in this regard, ESOP has already contacted
directly to the DGE but has so far been unable to obtain an answer.

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