Why Schools Should Exclusively Use Free Software

Richard Stallman:

Free software can save schools money, but this is a secondary benefit. Savings are possible because free software gives schools, like other users, the freedom to copy and redistribute the software; the school system can give a copy to every school, and each school can install the program in all its computers, with no obligation to pay for doing so.

This benefit is useful, but we firmly refuse to give it first place, because it is shallow compared to the important ethical issues at stake. Moving schools to free software is more than a way to make education a little “better”: it is a matter of doing good education instead of bad education. So let’s consider the deeper issues.

Schools have a social mission: to teach students to be citizens of a strong, capable, independent, cooperating and free society. They should promote the use of free software just as they promote conservation and voting. By teaching students free software, they can graduate citizens ready to live in a free digital society. This will help society as a whole escape from being dominated by megacorporations.