A DECISION by the
A circular the department sent to provincial departments of education, training service providers, independent school, and teacher associations, spells out what programmes schools must use for the computer application technology (CAT) and IT subjects.
"The programming language to implement the IT curriculum will be standardised using Delphi," the circular said.
Currently four provinces - the Western Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga - use Delphi.
The remaining five use Java as their programming language.
This means IT teachers from the five provinces - the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng, Free State and
Because of the training that is due to take place in these provinces, the introduction of Delphi will happen in phases, starting in
By 2016, the matric exams will be done in Delphi.
IT specialist Dr
This means schools will not be able to use freely available and varied software programmes.
"The worst aspect of Delphi is that it does not work on free software (open source) operating systems… This creates totally unnecessary pressure on schools to have
Keats said if the department wanted a standardised approach in the system that can be used, it should choose options that will broaden the system, not narrow it.
"The decision to allow only a single operating system from a single license rental company (
"The point (of a programme language) is to teach students how to think about programming and both programmes teach that really well," he said.
"Java has more advantages in that it allows students to programme for the web, phones and these modern gadgets.
Lamont said those who were in favour of Java felt that way because pupils could create apps for cellphones and the like. He said internationally, there was a bigger preference for Java.
The department defended its decision, saying "complexities in synchronising two different programming languages" in the IT curriculum have been evident from back in 2006 and became even more of an issue with the introduction of the IT curriculum and assessment policy statement (Caps).
The department also pointed out that using two different languages was problematic for pupils who have had to transfer to schools in different provinces where another programming language was used. This switch has often lead to pupils dropping the subject altogether, the department said.
"Teachers moving between provinces/schools that use different programming languages need training and support to master the differences in syntax, approach, etc."
"IT teachers are scarce and subject support is specialised. With more than one programming language, the support is split.
"Instead of building strong support and resources in one language, these are split and teachers sometimes struggle to find enough support and resources or to share resources across provinces," the department said.
"The subject has a small number of learners, teachers and subject advisors. If support and training have to focus on different programming languages to implement the curriculum, it becomes time consuming, impractical and costly. Also, developing material needs to be done in two programming languages, one of the possible reasons for IT not having Grade 11 and 12 Caps textbooks listed on the national catalogue."
The department maintained that it has not "banned" open source software as its standardisation plan "only affects two curriculum subjects in Grades 10 to 12…"
"It does not affect other activities the (national department) is involved with, such as e-learning/ICT integration in other subjects and grades," the department said.
Keats disagreed with this, saying: "This does in effect preclude FOSS operating systems - amounting to a ban on FOSS for teaching
"FOSS office packages such as LibreOffice and
"The (department's) decision passes a cost burden onto parents, as in purchasing a laptop for their children will now be required to pay for license fees to
Keats said this was no way to stimulate interest in IT as pupils taking the subjects continue to decline.
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