There was a strong consensus that the decisions made by the
Key concerns raised by group included: the lack of industry consultation; the unintended consequences of the decision, not least of which is the anti-competitive nature of the decision and how this benefits two large US corporations at the expense of others; the fact that this move is in direct conflict with the existing FOSS policy; and the concern that this decision will relegate our learners to a future of global irrelevance in the marketplace.
The first part of the discussions focused on the decision to standardise on
Concerns were raised about the process and whether commercial implications of choosing commercial software on an exclusive basis meant that this should have been dealt with as an open tender rather than an internal departmental decision on standardisation.
The committee and group participants decided on five action points which included a paper to be produced within the month as a means of lobbying fore-evaluation of the decision at a national level. The paper would need to articulate the issues and provide alternatives and solutions in a balanced and objective way.
"Standardisation on one technology or programming language for education and assessment in computing and software skills is problematic. It is much like trying to study medicine based on the kidney as the only part of the human anatomy," says
Overall, the group of participants were keen to contribute towards finding alternatives and felt that there should have been wider consultation and agreed that the second priority would be to work with other stakeholdergroups and communities including industry organisations, parents and teachers.
A shift in mindset is needed
The committee also agreed to develop a set of guidelines which it would circulate to members and other businesses to create awareness of the issues and for commerce and industry to take the lead in assessing computing skills as the benchmark for educators.
It was pointed out by representatives in education that there needs to be a shift in mindset from creating end-users or consumers of technology to teaching learners to be producers and developers of technology solutions. To this end, the committee has decided to work on engaging educational bodies such as the
As a final point, the participants who were attorneys or had legal and policy backgrounds have committed to assist to look at the issue further from a legal and process perspective. As
The committee would like to see an open approach taken that would allow for a diversity of technologies and opportunities to create highly skilled and employable youths. It does recognise that government and educators cannot do this alone and that the business community must play its part.
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