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05.25.10

BECTA Discharged

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We are looking forward to a productive working relationship with Microsoft over the next three years and we will work closely together…”

Ralph Tabberer, BECTA board member

Summary: BECTA goes the way of the dodo, which rekindles the possibility of software freedom being adhered to in British schools

OVER the years we wrote a lot about BECTA, noting that it was in bed with Microsoft and thus was a facilitator of Microsoft monopoly in British schools.

Now that the government in the UK is flipping, we finally receive the encouraging news that BECTA becomes defunct, so it will no longer interfere with judgment of British schools, not before a replacement is found for it at least.

Here is what The Register wrote about it:

Becta, the education IT procurement quango, is to be scrapped as part of the new government’s £6.2bn cuts this year, announced by George Osborne this morning.

Schools are expected to get more control over their technology purchases as a result. Becta did not buy computers and software for schools, but instead drew up framework agreements that bound local authorities to particular vendors and packages.

Microsoft sympathisers like Rory Cellan-Jones and Tim Anderson also had something to say:

I have mixed feelings about this, though in a period when severe cutbacks are required a body like Becta is hard to justify. I first came across Becta in the context of the debate about Office Open XML, Microsoft Office and Open Office. Becta, which claims to provide “rigorous research and evaluation”, came up with a full report on Microsoft Vista and Office 2007. These are products which I know a lot about, and I thought the report was poor. I liked the fact that Becta was positive towards open source; but disliked the uncritical advocacy which it seemed to indulge in at times.

A longtime critic of BECTA, John Spencer, ponders what happens next.

But now, with a new Government BECTA and QCDA are no more. They both moved to Coventry recently, I knew that was the end of them, apparently they did not. NO ONE voluntarily moves from London to Coventry.do they? But no acronym change…just abolishment?

Pogson claims that Canada has a problem similar to BECTA and hopes that Canada too will get rid of it.

BECTA is to be closed this year in a cost-cutting expedition of the government of the UK. Having mixed results from similar organizations in Canada, I have mixed feelings about BECTA.

[...]

I do not know what the result of BECTA’s demise will be. It would be good if schools formed their own umbrella organization and used FLOSS and the FLOSS community for similar benefits to what BECTA does.

Now there is an opportunity to put in place of BECTA a body that’s dedicated to education, not indoctrination. Students out to be taught methods, not products.

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