The NCTE, which is an agency of Ireland's Department of Education and Science, has signed a master distribution agreement with Santa Clara, California-based Sun through which it will provide Sun's StarOffice 7 to 3,200 primary school and 720 secondary schools across the country.
That equates to over 50,000 teachers and 783,000 students potentially using Sun's StarOffice word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database applications, according to Sun. Under the terms of the agreement schools will be able to obtain a free master copy of StarOffice 7 and duplicate it as required.
Individual schools will have the choice whether to use StarOffice or alternative office suites, but Sun is hoping many will take up the potential cost savings. The company boasts that its education licensing means that nine million primary secondary school students are already using StarOffice around the world, along with nine million further education students.
The NCTE agreement is the second piece of good news for supporters of alternatives to Microsoft in the education sector in a week. Last week the UK's British Educational Communications and Technology Agency indicated that schools could be making significant cost savings from increased use of open source software.