By Ibrahim Olukotun
Lagos. November 21, 2012:Datasphir, an ICT Solution and Consultancy company has announced plan to launch EduERP, an open source software for efficient running of higher educational institutions in Nigeria.
The enterprise resource planning software is slated for launch on November 28, 2012 at the Centre for Information Technology and Systems, University of Lagos, the company said yesterday at a pre-launch briefing to journalists in Lagos.
According to Datasphir, the software which has been improved upon over the years after the first adoption by the University of Jos in 2005 and subsequently the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto and a private university, Veritas University in Abuja.
EduERP is set to provide higher education institutions in Nigeria with a secure and robust platform to manage staff and students, the company says.
Briefing Journalists at the pre-launch event, Owen Iyoha, Director, Datasphir says that in other to achieve critical mass the company has decided to make the software an open source which is essentially that it will be available as free software that is opened for improvement.
According to him, rather than making it a proprietary software, which would mean users paying for it, it is open to any institution that needs to make use of as they can log on to the company site and explore it.
Highlighting the importance of the ERP software in education sector, he says EduERP is poised to tackle key challenges of higher institutions in the management of students and staff data.
For instance, an average Federal University has a student population of about 30,000 and workforce of 3000. For this reason it is not uncommon for a student to have spent like three years in the university just to be told that he failed a particular course in second year therefore he could not graduate, Iyoha says.
According to him, the EduERP is a complete online management system for higher education used by staff and students. Some of its features include student/ course registration, examination processing, results notification, transcript generation and other automated features like hostels allocation.
The software also comes with an administration interface that allows an institution’s management to set parameters such as staff use, student use, fees and late charges, opening and closing dates for registration among many others, according to Datasphir.
Asked how the company hopes to recoup its investments into developing EduERP since it is free software, Iyoha says that, “though the company has altruistic reasons however, many institutions that may not be able to operate the software. Therefore, Datasphir will charge a consultancy fee to train them.”
He adds that, “however, there will be a forum on the website where questions might be asked but the reply might not be timely. In short there is a free and paid support, it is up to them. In addition to that, there is an e –payment system, called Edu-pay. It is essentially a student debit card; they can use it for school fees payment. There is a commercial incentive for the company when students use the service.”
Commenting on issues of potential infringement on intellectual property raised at the event, he says that the software is free software that can be used and improved upon by other users but the user must acknowledge Datasphir as the original owner.
“EduERP is licensed under the General Public Licence (GPL) version 2. This means anyone is free to download, use or modify it, but if they distribute the modifications, then they must distribute the modified source code as well. The open development model means that other developers and users can collaborate to make sure that EduERP continues to support the latest technologies for shared benefit and as a way of developing programming capacity.”
He allayed fears of insecurity of the free software noting that the company is aware of the concerns but those raising the concerns are unaware that most of the software they are using on the Internet are free open source software.
He alluded to Microsoft operating systems and Linux, which is a free open source software that is generally believed to be more secured than Microsoft Windows, a paid proprietary software, because it is opened to improvement by other software developers.