CAT, IT education won't suffer over OSS policy, says expert

2013-10-16 07:23
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The anger at the department of basic education's policy is misplaced because it is focused on the delivery of the curriculum, an independent technology expert has said.

"I think there is a huge misconception going on here. The directive is a bit vague and unclear on many points however I read it as MS office and Delphi must be used in the implementation and assessment of the curriculum," Steve Ambrose, CEO of Strategy Worx Consulting told News24.

He was responding to reports that Derek Keats, director of Kenga Solutions, expressed his anger at the change in policy posture regarding open source software.

The department of basic education announced last week that it had changed its policy to phase out open source software in the implementation and assessment of computer applications technology and information technology in the national senior certificate (NSC) examinations.

Ambrose said that the anger was unnecessary because it would not have an impact on the curriculum in CAT and IT.

"In effect the teachers will only use these standard commercial tools and the Delphi for implementation and examination of the CAT curriculum."


He expressed his support for the methodology used to deliver the technology curriculums at school. The S9 circular, signed by DBE acting director general SG Padayachee aims to phase out open source by 2016.

"The circular appears to be clearly aimed at the teaching and administrative staff in order to streamline their use of platforms, which is a good thing, and not at amending or changing the published curriculum which  appears well thought out and well researched," said Ambrose.

Keats, who is a former professor of Botany (marine biology), former senior manager at two higher education institutions, and long-time free open source software advocate, had reacted angrily to the circular and wrote that the department could not deliver on critical educational tools.

"This is a shocking embarrassment to our nation. Last year, then the DBE failed to ensure textbook distribution to certain schools in Limpopo, the press (correctly) went into a feeding frenzy.

"This is a bigger issue, because it disadvantages every school child in the nation, creates a whole generation of technology slavery, and denies school learners the opportunity to learn programming technologies that are actually in use," Keats wrote.

Ambrose insisted that Keats had misunderstood the intention of the circular and streamlining may have positive spin-offs for the delivery of technology education.

"Phasing out of old versions of software packages is also good practice as this streamlines support and service. Derek Keats has misconstrued the intention of the circular and drew conclusions that do not appear valid from the circular; that appears to contain good business decisions in the provision of quality education."

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