Brazil: “90,000 Free Software Machines For Schools”


Surf City Cidade de Deus: Brazilian tadinhos have been impatient with the stalled progress of digital inclusion (above). But now that São Jorge de Luladocio has slain the Wintel-AMD duopoly — or has he? — will it prove to have been worth the wait?

“70% of computer purchases are now made in the formal market, which means the population is no longer having recourse to the “grey market, which pays no taxes and creates no jobs with formal labor rights.”

Escolas públicas devem receber 90 mil computadores com software livre: “Brazilian public schools due to receive 90,000 computers with free (FLOSS) software.”

The official Agência Brasil reports. A follow-up to

Which was posted quite some time ago. All you ever read about in the tech press here, on the subject of educational technology, is blanket coverage of the $100 laptop. Even when you read about the competition among three models, currently in a pre-pilot evalution stage, last I read, the story is invariably illustrated with the lean, green tiny MIT machine.

Which, again, does not cost $100. But the Brazilian press continues to call it that.

Perhaps that is because the product’s official brand name is somewhat unfortunately, linguisticially.

It is know as the XO, as in “hugs and kisses.”

In demotic Brazilian, means “shame on you!”

The Estadão, for example, insists on calling it “the famous $100 laptop.” The other machines do not get a Homeric epithet, nor is their price point reported — not even inaccurately.

I find that kind of amazing. Or then again, not really so amazing. Stealth advertorial is kind of a national blood sport among the big media companies here.

See

Foz do Iguaçu (PR) – O governo federal começou a distribuir 90 mil computadores com software livre a escolas públicas de todo o país, de acordo com o gerente de Inovações Tecnológicas do Ministério do Planejamento, Corinto Meffe. Ele é um dos participantes da 4ª Conferência Latino-Americana de Software Livre (Latinoware 2007), que se encerra hoje (14), em Foz do Iguaçu (PR).

Foz do Iguaçu (Paraná): The federal government has begun to distribute 90,000 computers with free software to public schools throughout Brazil, according to the technological innovation manager of the Ministry of Planning, Corinto Meffe. He is one of the participations in the Fourth Latin-American Free Software Conference (Latinoware 2007), which closes today in Paraná.

Since testing and evaluation of the “$100 laptop” — which the Peruvians just bought for $185 a unit, go figure — is not complete here, I am assuming the machines procured are not the famous Negroponte wireless lunch pails — the marmita de conhecimento, to coin a phrase. See also

For a comparable case of software procurement for Mexican public education, see also

I still cannot find a copy of the report in question, however, so stay tuned on that.

Segundo Meffe, os computadores foram comprados com recursos do Fundo Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Educação (FNDE/MEC). “Esse total soma-se aos 50 mil já existentes, acelerando o processo de informatização na educação”, ressaltou.

According to Meffe, the computers were bought with resources from the National Educational Development Fund. “This comes on top of the 50,000 units already in existence, accelerating the process of computerization in education,” he said.

Ao citar ações do governo federal no sentido de promover o uso de software livre, que é o programa de computador livre, com código aberto, Meffe afimrou que o cenário para a consolidação dessa a política nunca foi tão favorável.

Citing federal actions to promote FLOSS, such as the open-source computer, Meffe said the prospects for the consolidation of this policy were never better.

Um exemplo, segundo ele, são os resultados obtidos com o Programa Brasileiro de Inclusão Digital, que tem o objetivo de ampliar o acesso dos brasileiros de baixa renda a computadores e à internet. Um dos eixos do programa é o uso de software livre.

An example, he says, are the results from the Brazilian Digital Inclusion Program, whose goal is to increase access by low-income Brazilians to computers and the Internet. One of the pillars of the program is the use of FLOSS.

Com a adoção do programa Computador Para Todos, ainda no primeiro mandato do presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, houve redução da pirataria no país, de acordo com Meffe. Segundo ele, atualmente 70% das compras de computadores são feitas no mercado formal, o que significa que a população está deixando de recorrer ao “mercado cinza, que não paga impostos nem contrata mão-de-obra com garantias trabalhistas”.

With the adoption of the Computers for All program in the first Lula administration, there was a reduction of piracy in the country, Meffe says. According to him, 70% of computer purchases are now made in the formal market, which means the population is no longer having recourse to the “grey market, which pays no taxes and creates no jobs with formal labor rights.”

Saying this at a conference along the Triple Frontier — a key river-crossing for the Great Sino-Paraguayan Silk Road — carries a certain symbolic weight.

“O governo colocou a mão no bolso e isentou do PIS/Confins a indústria e o varejo, que podem vender máquinas de até R$ 1,2 mil a preços subsidiados e isso foi determinante para essa mudança de mentalidade.”

“The government dug deep and exempted the industry and retailers from the PIS/Confins tax, so they can sell machines up to R$1,200 at subsidizes prices, and this has been decisive for the change of mentality.”

Segundo ele, o governo vê o uso de software livre como uma “questão quase obrigatória”, pelas vantagens que traz para o setor público, pela transparência e até mesmo como política de continuidade de programas governamentais. “ Funciona como proteção para o cidadão, mas o bom é hoje chegar nas empresas, academias, terceiro setor, na casa do cidadão comum, e perceber que todo o país está despertando para a importância desse sistema.”

According to Meffe, the government sees the use of FLOSS as “almost obligatory,” “given the advantages it brings to the public sector, the transparency and even the policy of continuity of government programs.” It functions as a protection for the citizen, but the good thing is that today, when you to visit businesses, universities, NGOs, and the homes of common Brazilians, you see the country is waking up to the importance of this system.”

Entre as ações do governo federal no sentido de promover o uso de software livre, o gerente destacou um projeto da Caixa Econômica Federal (CEF) que pretende para migrar todas as máquinas das casas lotéricas para programas de código aberto. Os terminais de auto-atendimento do Banco do Brasil, segundo ele, também devem seguir o mesmo caminho.

[tktktktk]

De acordo com Meffe, o Serviço Federal de Processamento de Dados (Serpro) já economiza R$ 19 milhões com a adoção do software livre e Previdência Social, R$ 27 milhões. A Empresa de Tecnologia e Informações da Previdência Social (Dataprev) possui uma estrutura de aproximadamente 500 servidores (computadores que cuidam da logística da empresa) que usam software livre.

[tktktktk]

“São iniciativas que estão ganhando um caráter de coletividade. O que se percebe neste momento é uma união de esforços e interesses comuns tanto de autoridades como da população”, observou Meffe.

[tktktktk]

This is a one-source government press release, so hold while I see if I can find some independent reporting on the program. TeleSíntese, which I read regularly, has produced some numbers to indicate that the Computer for All program, in general, has actually been quite a measurable success.

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