Sunday, November 6, 2011

To Ghana's Minister of Education- Can we please Open Source the CSSPS?

Hello Madam Betty, this mail is being written to you on an OS called Xubuntu, it's open source and developed by people from all walks of life. The underlying skeleton, or code as it's called, is open for anybody's inspection. Anybody who thinks there's something wrong with it can have a look at the code and if need be, suggest changes that will better the OS for all who use it.


You may be asking why this long preamble? Well because as a youth of this dear country of ours, I always get headaches, heartaches, fever, high blood pressure among others anytime the senior high school placement- you know, that piece of algorithm that supposedly auto selects which school to place every junior high school student- system kicks in every year. To the best of my understanding Madam, that system was put in place to curb the annual frustrations that hard working, tax paying parents of this country go through every year in getting their wards placed in high schools.


That old system we were told- and we agree- was fraught with irregularities, corruption among others thus the need for a computerized system that does all the placements automatically, without any human intervention. Wow, that was an awesome idea for a country that still is technophobe at the government level. Until the computerized system became worse than the old system. You're a witness to it Madam, year in year out, parents keep going through untold agonies because the so called computerized system that we were told could not be comprised, is not doing what it was intended to. Far from it. 


We, and by we, I mean myself and like minded youth like me, don't have any evidence to suggest the computerized selection and school placement system has been compromised. However, what we are humbly demanding as a matter of urgency and desperation is for the system, the entire piece of software that makes up the CSSPS be open sourced. We want the government of the Republic of Ghana to make the code of the CSSPS available as an open source project for anybody to be a watchdog over it. 


We want to be able to see what the code looks like, keep an eye on it so no single entity has complete control over it. We don't know who the government did contract to write that software, but as tax payers, and as a democratic country that prides itself on the tenets of transparency, we the youth of this country want to be vanguards of the code that has been the cause of so much controversy in our educational system for sometime now. 


You may be wondering what's there to gain by open sourcing the code right? Well for starters the government won't need to spend hard cash in paying whoever it contracted to write that code. Me, him, they, us and everybody around the globe can be a maintainer of that code once it goes open source. We save money which can be used elsewhere. Secondly all doubts will be cleared and trust restored in the system. You know for sure parents have lost trust in the entire selection and placement process. They strongly believe the system is corrupted. And what's there to stop them from believing that when only a select few know what the code is like and have access to it?


Third, we can be a model for other African countries when we open source the code. They can look at it,  adapt it to their needs and then on we move as Africa. To give you an example of what open source can do, take a look at that massive, 800lbs gorilla called Google. Yea. That company whose annual revenues is almost equal to our GDP runs on open source. It's a central, necessary part of that company. It's Android OS is a prime example of the power of making code available to all and sundry.


I could go on and on about the benefits of open sourcing the CSSPS. But I know you're hard pressed for time so I'm just going to end here. Just a recap Madam, we're asking that the gov takes the CSSPS project and make it available as open source so the entire nation can be vanguards of the process and we assure you that the entire hiccups that have become a necessary annual ritual and characteristic of this school selection and placement exercise will be a thing of the past in no time. 


This is my first mail to you Madam, but you can bet it won't be last. We're waiting to hear from you. 

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