Recognition for CAT

At the Computer Applications Olympiads Dinner held in Cape Town last week, Ziyaad Seedat, a grade 12 learner at the Ligbron Academy of Technology in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, was awarded the first place CoZa Cares Trophy and a gold medal.

This year’s Applications Olympiad finalists were representative of the entire country as they came from six of the nine provinces.  In the past, the Western Cape and girls dominated the Finals. This year, there were no finalists from the Western Cape and only two girls.

Ziyaad also won a scholarship to the University of Cape Town, an Apple iPad and R3 000 prize money.

The Computer Applications Olympiad is only three years old, but with 13 000 participants is already one of South Africa’s largest Olympiads. Most of the participants take Computer Application Technology (CAT) at school. This subject teaches the skills necessary to use tools like Word Processors, Spreadsheets and Databases.

Speaker after speaker pleaded with Education Authorities and Universities to give more recognition to CAT.  President Zuma has now added his voice to theirs.

Guest Speaker, Kobus van Wyk, until recently director of the Khanya Project in the Western Cape, stressed the value of CAT irrespective of study direction or future career.

The Executive Director of the Computer Society of South Africa,Tony Parry, in his address, added the voice of the ICT professionals to this.  “The CSSA cannot emphasise enough that ICT studies should start at school.”

Peter Waker, Manager of the Olympiad, expressed confidence that later this year Higher Education S.A. will announce that CAT is a designated subject; one that helps learners to gain an advantage when applying for university admission.  “Drama is a designated subject; it is inconceivable that CAT would not be” he added.

Presenting the first place trophy to Ziyaad, Fiona Wallace, CoZa Cares Manager, expressed the social responsibility organisation`s pleasure at being able to once again sponsor the Olympiad. Congratulating the young learner, Ms Wallace said, “There are certain skills vital to the future wellbeing of modern nations. CoZa Cares invests heavily in computer-related education because the ability to successfully navigate a computer screen is related to the ability to successfully navigate life. Computer skills are vital to people and to nations.”

Addressing the 53rd ANC National Policy Conference last week, President Zuma stressed that the need for ICT skills to enable the country to progress.

“On the skills front, many young people, especially from historically-disadvantaged backgrounds, come out of the basic education system never having been exposed to ICTs.  This impacts their performance in institutions of higher learning, as well as their ability to adapt and become competent in the use of ICTs.”

The discussion document tabled at the conference proposes that in order to have an e-literate population, e-skills should become a compulsory subject in all public schools.


While most of the participants are heading for studies that will lead them into the IT world, Ziyaad is unusual in that he intends to study Medicine next year  at the University of Cape Town.

Silver medals went to Salomè Bloem, a grade 12 learner at the Hoër Volkskool in Potchefstroom, North West Province and Michael Harrison of grade 12 at Michaelhouse in KwaZulu-Natal.  Michael will study Computer Science at the University of Cape Town next year, while Salomè will go to the North-West University to become a chartered accountant.

Bronze medals went to Lwandle Makhoba, a grade 11 learner at Horizon High School in Johannesburg, Thiolan Naidoo, also a grade 11 learner, but at the Star College in Durban, and Mpumelelo Sibiya of the Ligbron Academy of Technology in Ermelo, Mpumalanga.