Please tell me this is not true – Please tell me this is just media getting it wrong…the ramifications?!
Today I received a copy of a Circular S9/2013 from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) that made me as angry as I have ever been in my life. In effect it destroyed any initiative in schools that offer the subjects “Computer Applications Technology” (CAT) and “Information Technology” (IT) and that use open source software. For CAT, the DBE has indicated that only Microsoft Office can be used and that this will only be MSO2010 and MSO2013 as from 2014. I learned that in IT they have dumped Java, effectively from 2013, and have prescribed Delphi, a language that is not in general use today and is basically Pascal with a Graphical User Interface.
Seriously? Delphi? South African Technology education in all our schools will be left in the stone age with this move. This will make Microsoft South Africa millions in revenue and remove a huge chuck of the potential of any South African who wishes to do any work for any company that will still exist in 20 years. Who is the politician getting a kick-back for this decision?
This is wrong on so many levels, that it will be difficult for me to convey them all in the time available to write this blog post. However, let me list a few:
- The decision to allow only a single operating system from a single license rental company (Microsoft) is anti-competitive, and denies school learners exposure to a variety of viable alternatives, and also denies other companies access to the school environment.
- The decision to allow only a single office suite from a single license rental company (Microsoft) is anti-competitive, and denies school learners exposure to a variety of viable alternative office suites that could indeed run even on said operating system, and also denies other companies access to the school environment.
- The directive locks school children to a particular company’s product, hiding from them that there are viable alternatives that they can have full control over, and that does not lock them into being customers of a particular license rental company (indeed that do not extract rents from artificial scarcity at all and that respects their freedom).
- The decision passes a cost burdon onto parents, as in purchasing a laptop for their children will now be required to pay for license fees to Microsoft products, even though viable free alternatives are available.
- The South African government has a Free and Open Source Software Policy, that was promulgated in 2007, and this directive is counter to that policy completely in that it FORCES the implementation of proprietary technologies where viable FOSS alternatives exists in contradiction to government’s own policy.
I have no doubt that many lies will be told about the cost of implementing FOSS, etc. I hope that when you see them, you will recognise them for the corrupt untruths they are.