Part of our manifesto is to campaign to get more Open source software in schools / colleges etc, to give young people a chance to use a variety of different systems. Also if a school offers Open office along side commercial packages such as MS office they:
Young people develop awareness of other software
Young people who for example use Linux and Open office, can bring in native file formats in to school and print off / keep working without issues surrounding import / export
Gain understanding on how to use a word processor rather than simply how to use a specific package, this helps long term as you understand the underpinning ideas, which are then applied to any new package you are faced with.
Cost / time / effort
We do however understand that schools spend a lot of money on teaching resources or time / effort in planning and preparation of these resources, so a course based around MS office would need changing to suit Open office for example. A big barrier, Well actually No...
The following two
are recognised adn supported courses, with course materials all ready to go
We would like to see schools and colleges offer some of these courses, especially courses such as ICDL.
http://www.lpi.org/certification - Linux professional Institute Certification
http://shop.canonical.com/index.php?cPath=21 - Ubuntu Training
http://www.redhat.com/certification/rhce/ - Red Hat Certification
http://www.comptia.org/certifications/listed/linux.aspx - CompTIA Linux+