A few weeks ago, a memo from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was published which said that schools across South Africa should standardise around Microsoft Office and the programming language Delphi for teaching computer science-related subjects. This met with an outcry in the media from people who pointed out that
- a) The government has a mandate to prefer open-source applications like LibreOffice where two products offer similar functions.
- b) Delphi isn’t a very modern language, is proprietary code and not used outside of education. Compared to alternatives like Python
People felt that our kids should be exposed to the wider world of FOSS and tools that might be useful to them or easier to grasp, like Python.
In response, the DBE published a document defending its decisions, which unfortunately read like a marketing brochure for Embarcadero – the company which owns Delphi.
An online petition reflecting concerns around the decision to adopt Delphi has launched, and now has 729 signatures. If you feel like lending your voice, the link is here. Read it before you sign, though – the petition is specifically to replace Delphi with Java, which you may not consider ideal either, and doesn’t touch on other issues for reasons of simplicity.