About the Computer Olympiad

The South African Computer Olympiad is one of the oldest in the world. It started in 1984 when a group of teachers approached Old Mutual for sponsorship. It became a project of the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa – funded by Old Mutual for the next 20 years.

For the first two years, participation was less than 100 but when a two-round format was introduced in 1986, participation went over 1,000 immediately. By 1990 the Olympiad had 2,000 participants per year and was the biggest event of its kind in the world. By 2003 participation had grown to over 3,000 but very few from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

To cater for a wider audience, a new round, an aptitude test, was introduced and participation again increased; to more than 11,000 in 2003, 13,000 in 2004 and 15,000 in 2005. (See Statistics for a full list.)

Concerned that many learners waited to grade 11 or 12 before taking part in the Computer Olympiad, when it would be too late to make the right subject choices, an aptitude test was introduced in 2006. Number of entries shot up immediately to 32,000 in 2006. This round is now known as the Talent Search and still attracts large numbers of participants.

To cater for the increasing number of learners who take Computer Application Technology or Computer Literacy at schools, an additional competition was introduced in 2010. This is known as the Computer Applications Olympiad to distinguish this Olympiad from the Computer Programming Olympiad.

Currently the South African Computer Olympiad is still one of the biggest events of its kind in the world. It is the only programming competition and the only application competition for school-age learners offered nationally. STANDARD BANK is the main sponsor of the Talent Search and the Programming Olympiad. The Olympiad receives further support from the UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN.

The INSTITUTE of IT PROFESSIONALS SOUTH AFRICA are the sponsors of the Applications Olympiad.

Trustees

The Computer Olympiad is a project of the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa (IITPSA). Its aim is to identify, encourage, and reward programming aptitude. To this end a trust, the South African Computer Olympiad Trust has been established. Trustees are appointed by IITPSA and the University of Cape Town. Seven members make up the Management Committee

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Mike Chiles (Trustee) has been involved with ICT in Education for most of his adult life. He retired from the Western Cape Education Department as Director: e-Learning and Library Services. He is currently on the board of e-Schools' Network

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Donald Cook (Trustee) is a former lecturer in the Computer Science Department at the University of Cape Town. He has also been involved in the Computer Olympiad since the beginning and managed the Scientific Committee from 1995 to 2007.

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Paul Robson from Standard Bank is a technology executive with over 18 years’ experience in the Banking Industry. Paul is passionate about growing, and developing, the technology talent pool in South Africa. Standard Bank is the main sponsor of the Computer Olympiad.

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Moira de Roche (Trustee) is a Director and Past President of the Institute of IT Professionals and currently serves as Honorary Treasurer of the IITPSA. Moira made education a priority during her presidency.

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James Gain (Trustee) is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at the University of Cape Town. He currently manages the Scientific Committee which sets the questions and tests the solutions. This committee is mainly made up of past Olympiad participants.

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Peter Waker (Trustee) has spent all his adult life in education – the last 35 years in IT and education. He is a founding member of the Computer Olympiad and a trustee of the Olympiad Trust.

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Michael Cameron is the Manager of the Computer Olympiad. He believes that the Trust is uniquely positioned to enhance computational thinking in South Africa. His appointment in 2016 follows a career as a teacher and Chief Education Specialist in the Western Cape Education Department.

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PARTICIPATION SINCE 1984



From 2003 to 2011 the “Talent Search” was known as the “First Round” of the Computer Olympiad.
From 2003 to 2011 the “Programming Olympiad” was known as the “Second Round” of the Computer Olympiad.