Linux @ Kerala Schools - an impromptu survey
One fine day, a couple of weeks back, I am visiting one of the villages on the Kerala - Tamil Nadu border, as a part of my job, (which is not even remotely connected with IT, BTW).
As is normal in most Indian villages, the village kids surround me, like flies around a lump of sugar. I continue doing my job.
Towards the end of the day, I find a few minutes to make eye contact with them; they are embarrassed.
"What do you do", I ask them. ("Which class are you studying" is what you ask, normally, but that often gives me misleading information - the kid will mumble some thing like "8th standard", while he actually working at some local tea shop for Rs. 8/- a day.
"8th, 9th, 10th" goes the chorus. They are very uncomfortable. "This saar is making seniors of the village uncomfortable, but why is he trying to talk to us?" is what might have crossed their minds.
"Ah. So you learn computers too??" The saar asks. The saar's full attention is now on them.
"Yes"; they say with a sense of pride.
"What do you learn on computers?" asks the saar. Finding some uncomfortable shiftiness, the saar adds helpfully - "games?"
The smile, and silence is self-explanatory. And then one of them nudges the other, and says, "verse".
"Huh?? What is 'verse"?" asks the saar. And then the bulb glows in the saar's head. "You mean 'word'?"
"No" is what their faces say.
Now, the saar is getting a faint idea of the things.
"The school computers run Linux?" asks the saar.
"Where have we heard of linux" is the look on the kid's face.
The saar now looks at the "verse" kid, and asks - "OpenOffice??"
All the kids brighten up, and nod in unison.
"Do they allow you to use the internet?" I ask. They nod. "What do you use to get on the internet?"
The saar is now amused, and the kids sense that the saar is happy for some reason. "What else do you do on the computer", I ask.
"TuxPaint", they say. They realise that limit of their knowledge is close by.
"So the computers run Linux"? I repeat.
The faces are blank. "Windows?, Ubuntu? Debian? RedHat?" I ask. The kids are frightened. They run away.
Last modified: Sat Oct 11 12:44:09 IST 2008