[FoME] FYI: ICT award for "Khmer Open Source"

Seibold, Balthas balthas.seibold at inwent.org
Mi Dez 12 17:09:21 CET 2007


>>> "InWEnt" <andreas.baaden at inwent.org> 12.12.2007 15:48 >>>
InWEnt-Partner KhmerOS of Cambodia finalist in Stockholm Challenge GKP award 2007 for excellent ICT for development project

"We envision a country where Cambodians can learn and use computers in their own language, a country that does not have to change to a new language in order to use computers!" 
(vision of KhmerOS Software Initiative)

Bonn/Kuala Lumpur, 12. December 2007.  KhmerOS, a partner of InWEnt - Capacity Building International, Germany, has won the second prize in the prestigious international Stockholm Challenge GKP Award in the category "economic development". The global recognition was awarded on 11.
2007 in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia by the two organizations "Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP)" and "The Stockholm Challenge". The award is given for excellent examples of implementations of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that show clear benefits to people and their communities, wide impact and sustainable business models. The award is set up to stimulate innovation within multi-stakeholder partnerships in Knowledge for Development. 

InWEnt-partner KhmerOS focuses on providing training in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in Cambodia with the goal of adapting crucial software to the local needs. KhmerOS achieves this goal inter alia by encouraging the translation of software and manuals into the local Khmer language, which is a precondition for the use of ICTs such as Computer and the Internet for over 95 percent of the population of Cambodia, who do not speak foreign languages fluently enough. According to the jury KhmerOS is a typical best practise example of what the effective use of FOSS can accomplish for developmental needs.

InWEnt has been working with KhmerOS and the National Information Communications Technology Development Authority (NiDA) of Cambodia since
2004 in the area of capacity building and training. As a result, more than 4.000 people were trained in issues such as office applications based on Free and Open Source Software. Also, training material and handbooks in Khmer were developed. Finally, these partners are collaborating in training and networking FOSS multipliers in the area of IT administration through the operating system Linux. InWEnt congratulates KhmerOS for winning the prestigious prize and looks forward to expanding the successful collaboration in the future.

The partnership is part of InWEnts regional programme "it at foss - Promoting Free and Open Source Software in Southeast Asia" financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
it at foss
aims at fostering a Free and Open Source Software community for economic development within South East Asia. 

For more information on KhmerOS, see: http://www.khmeros.info/ 

For more information on InWEnt's programm it at foss, see:

For more information on the award, see:


Further information/interviews: 

Balthas Seibold, InWEnt, Fon +49 228 4460-1253, Mobile +49 171-53 55 940, mailto:balthas.seibold at inwent.org 

Javier Solá, coordinator of Khmer OS, mailto:javier at khmeros.info 


The KhmerOS/Open Schools Program initiative - a Cambodian multi-stakeholder project - was awarded the Stockholm Challenge/GKP Award to the project that best uses ICT to produce economic development. The Sweden-based Stockholm Challenge Award is the most prest igious award for projects that use technology to support development in developing countries.

The Khmer Software Initiative (KhmerOS) is based in two simple
there is no economic development in countries that do not use technology; and, there is no widespread use of technology if the technology is not available in the language of the country.

As there was no commercial software in Khmer (Cambodian) language, Spanish engineer Javier Solá started the KhmerOS initiative in 2004, translating and producing free computer application in Khmer language (word processing, spreadsheets, Internet software, e-mail, etc.), as well as training materials and large amounts of documentation. The Linux operating system was also translated to Khmer. Together with the Cambodian National ICT Development Authority, during 2005 and 2006 several thousand private and public sector teachers, as well as government officials, were trained on the use of the free and open source applications. Many of the central as well as local administration bodies started using the software in their everyday work, as using software in English was not a viable option.

In 2007, the Open Institute - the NGO that houses the project - and the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport signed an agreement to start the Open Schools Program - Cambodia, aimed at integrating the use of ICT in Education. The first activity of the program was to train teachers in all teacher training centers, and all the high schools that have computers (28 percent of schools), and to use and teach Khmer language free software. A textbook was produced and is being distributed to all schools.
Cambodia thus becomes the first country to only use free software applications throughout the education system.

The project has also produced Khmer script keyboards and several books in Khmer. In order to approach sustainability, the technology for the keyboards has been transferred to local computer vendors, who are already manufacturing and selling them. The content of the books is licensed to anybody who wishes to print it for a profit. Other aspects of the project are also looking for interested third parties that will turn aspects of the project (that now require funding) into businesses that make the system sustainable.

The KhmerOS initiative has reached its 2004 goal of allowing Cambodians to use computers in their own language. It has meanwhile mutated to concentrate its efforts on the education system. As part of the Open Schools Program, the Ministry of Education and the Open Institute will develop this coming year a Master Plan for ICT in Education, which will not only expand the use of computers to all High Schools in four years, but which will also allow the use of ICT to improve the quality of education by using multimedia and Open and Distance education, all in Khmer language.
See: http://www.open.org.kh/osp 

For Javier Solá, founder and coordinator of the NGO side of the project, "the most important success factor of the KhmerOS project has been the ability of bringing together the development know-how of NGOs with the technological expertise of the Free and Open Source community and the experience and vision of the Cambodian government, creating a project that has interested commercial stakeholders, leading to the sustainable low-cost use of local language ICT in Education, government and local society, strongly reducing the digital divide."

The KhmerOS project is supported by Capacity Building International Germany (InWEnt),  the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI), and UNESCO. 

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andreas.baaden at inwent.org 

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