South Africa’s educational authority has decided to only allow Microsoft software in schools from next year, a move that may shut out Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).
The country’s Department of Basic Education (DBE) said that from January next year, only Microsoft Office 2010 and Office 2013 or newer versions could be used to implement the Computer Applications Technology and Information Technology curricula.
While older versions of Microsoft Office run on open source emulation layers such as WINE, newer ones require the Windows proprietary operating system, which has to be licensed.
Programming will be taught in Delphi, an Apple Computer and Borland developed object-oriented extension of Pascal, a language that first appeared in the mid eighties. Neither is commonly used today, but the DBE has nevertheless mandated that Delphi will completely replace the newer Java programming language for teaching in schools by November 2016.
“This news comes as a reminder of Microsoft marketing clout. In spite of the numerous successes achieved by Linux and Open Source Software Microsoft manage to strike back considerable power. This news is especially galling as the UK government has only just overturned its decade long policy of mandating Microsoft products in British schools.