News on the Sri Lankan School project
The Growth of the GNU Generation
When the Secondary Education Modernisation Project, and Red Hat asked The Linux Center to teach Red Hat Linux to school teachers, we jumped in without hesitation. After all, what better way to get students into Linux than through the support of the teachers.
But sometimes, things happen that you never expect to happen. You take a principal who actively encourages people to actually use the CLC, a CLC teacher who is into Open Source, and likes to try out new things, a few students who are interested in new technology, and you have amazing things happen.
When we first went into Gurukula Maha Vidyalaya, we found that some of the preloaded Red Hat Linux versions had been modified, and the login screens changed from the normal default. Evidently there was a geek in the premises. The question was “who"? We found out when we came for the teacher training sessions and were introduced to Kasun.
Kasun has been using Red Hat Linux for a while, and has been helping his friends to install it on their machines, and when he met us he was very interested in increasing his Linux knowledge. So interested that he agreed to come with us to our Red Hat Linux teaching programs in Galle. We were glad to have him, as he was enthusiastic and a fast learner. So fast a learner that he is now in high demand by the teachers in the Gampaha schools to install and teach Linux in the schools.
And then one day, Kasun calls us at The Linux Center and invites us to his school. The event – the launch of the Gurukula LUG. The first Linux User Group to be launched in a Sri Lankan Government school. How could we refuse?
Arunan and I made our way to Gurukula to help them launch the LUG. We were met by the teacher in charge and the new LUG members. Then it was off to meet the principal who was very happy that their school was leading the Linux revolution in Sri Lankan schools. So much so, that he made a public announcement to all the students present that anyone who wanted to join the new Gurukula LUG, was welcome to do so.
In order to help the Gurukula LUG kick off, we donated CDs, a Tux toy, a t-shirt and some Linux Books. These were officially presented to the Principal, who immediately presented the t-shirt to Kasun as a gesture of appreciation. I must say, Gurukula is a prime example of what can be accomplished when you have a Principal who takes an interest in the day to day running of the school and actively pushes the school forward.
The ceremonies were followed by the first meeting of the LUG, and a plan for the year. Kasun had many good ideas and plans, but due to a lack of experience, was not able to implement them properly. So Arunan and I advised him on what he needed to do, and how to go about it. Many plans were made for the entire year, and we helped to organise them into a coherent project.
So far we have agreed to help them in holding a Linux awareness project in the school itself, as well as teaching them to create and maintain their own website. They have also shown a lot of interest in taking part in all the LK-LUG events and helping in whatever way they can.
When we started the Linux to Schools project, we hoped that we would be able to make a change in the way Linux is used and perceived in Sri Lanka. To see the changes we make first hand, and so soon is both a pleasure and an encouragement for all in the project.