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Siri and I are on a journey through India and Nepal, with the aim of learning about needs of Debian derivatives, to improve Debian and encourage closer integration.
IT@school is a distribution originally based on Debian, later rebased on Ubuntu.
Next release will possibly again be a direct derivative of Debian, or maybe even - time will tell - a Debian pure blend.
Aim is education
As its name indicates, IT@school is targeted at schools: The system is used in 8th - 10th grades of most (or all?) public primary schools in Kerala,
Together with KEK members Anto and Fayad, Siri and I met with former and current key participants in the project where we learned about its history and current status, and discussed some differences between Ubuntu and Debian.
IT@school has a strong emphasis on the educational aspect, arguably setting it apart from Skolelinux/DebianEdu which emphasizes the technical aspect of relieving teachers from admin tasks. In the early years of deployment the project faced many hardware issues - e.g. in getting sound cards to work. This was seen not as problems but as beneficial learning for the teachers facing those issues.
Kerala public school system has set the standard for other states in India, but sadly political support within the state has been weak in recent years. It is hoped that next election - this April - will bring a positive change.
IT@school is accompagnied by a school book written specifically for use of the included tools.
No explicit license is applied to the book (which means it defaults to classic copyright). Possibly it will get Creative Commons licensed.
If the school book gets a DFSG-free license, several collaboration opportunities emerge:
Currently the book is drafted in LibreOffice but then - due to state procedures - finalized with PageMaker. Would be interesting to setup an alternate process using only Free tools - either with Scribus or XeLaTeX. An important detail here is to ensure that the process supports malayalam script.
Work is in progress mapping FLOSS tools to the state curriculum. I recommended to share that work publicly with a Free license, to encourage comparisons across countries, and invite collaboration e.g. with Skolelunux/DebianEdu.
Blend for SBCs
Some Kerala higher education schools (sorry, don't remember which) have bought some thousands of RaspberryPi2. I suggested to create a Debian Blend for SBCs (Single Board Computers) - we will see what comes of that idea…
Blend for education
I also suggested to make a Debian blend around IT@school distribution itself, with its strong focus on educational content - i.e. not just as addon to technical tools but the primary purpose pulling in tools as needed.