The Department of Basic Education recently released a circular stating that the programming language for Information Technology will be standardised to Delphi from 2014. Currently some provinces teach Java, an open source programming language while others teach Delphi.
Delphi is a programming language based on Pascal which incorporates object-orientation and is built around a graphical environment. It is event driven in that you begin with your interface, place graphical objects on to this and then provide the events and user objects as necessary. Java is more “pure” in its object-orientation in that you always work with a class which then becomes an object.
There have been many parties in education and industry that feel negatively about this change and with good reason. It will be difficult to effectively train teachers new to Delphi and have them sufficiently well-resourced by 2014 in order to teach effectively in the new language. Another complaint is also how the DBE went about its decision and the way in which the change was discovered. These issues do not change the fact though that the programming will be standardised to Delphi and so educators and departments need to train for this. The good news is that it will be easier to build and find resources for a single programming language. The exit practical examination in grade 12 will be more easily aligned with the CAPS document and in fact allow for more creativity within the exam as the examiners do not have to ensure that every concept that is examined can be equally assessed in both Java and Delphi without any advantage or disadvantage to either side. This is a critical factor that could strengthen the subject. Decisions and changes like these will always be extremely controversial but it is a situation where everyone needs to make the best of it.