The Centre for Internet and Society filed an RTI application to Visvesvaraya Technological University asking it to provide details about its curriculum design, and its tie-ups with various software vendors. (The Microsoft DreamSparkProgram is an initiative by Microsoft where all the students of the VTU would be allowed to download free versions of Microsoft original software and portraying an act of benignity from Microsoft for the student community. Microsoft through this program (with the real intention of suppressing any development of intellectual self reliance of the students), was able to make a deal with the VTU.)
The grip software vendors have over courses in technology (at both the school and the university levels) is a matter for concern. Due to what can be termed institutional inertia, educational institutions often don’t realise that alternatives exist in the form of FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source software), as proprietary software is entrenched in the system (and is sometimes the market leader in that tech sector). To further tighten their grip, software vendors enter into commercial deals with governments and universities in attempts to penetrate the crucial education sector. This often results in students being taught courses on how to use particular (usually proprietary) software instead of being taught standard technologies. In turn, this denies them the opportunity to learn the concepts behind the software effectively, and ties them to the particular software that they were taught. For software vendors, getting their products into the curricula is very important because the supply of students trained in particular software also affects the demand for that software.
Against this backdrop, The Hindu on Nov. 19, 2008 and the Deccan Herald on Nov 20, 2008 carried articles which talk about MoU being signed between Microsoft and VTU. A Right to Information application to get more details about it and t seems that the answer they got for it was pretty ridiculous one.
VTU’s reply to the RTI stated –
“With reference to the above, this is to inform that the matter MoU between Microsoft Corporation and Visvesvaraya Technological University is in discussion level. No document is signed till date.”
But things get even more interesting when it was found that there was a Microsoft Press Release. For your reference here is the link to Google Cache which shows the MS Press Release in HTML format with relevant text highlighted.
So clearly there is something messy in there, says The Centre for Internet and Society. Someone of the two is not correct. As the VTU has officially replied its now turn of MS to clarify. Why its technologies were are given preference over several FOSS technologies (which are often better) and also disregarding competitors who rule the market.
Links shared by Swapneel Patnekar.