The Standard Bank/CSSA Computer Olympiad has received more entries than ever before in its 17-year history.

“We already have more than 34 000 entries,” says Computer Olympiad manager Peter Waker. “The majority enters only for the first round in order to use the aptitude test, and that is fine with us.”
Many schools register for the Computer Olympiad in order to use the first round as a free aptitude test.  This round does not require the use of computers, but will indicate which students have an aptitude for computer programming, and which should look for employment opportunities elsewhere.
The first round of the Olympiad is offered free to all high schools.  For grades 8 and 9 the main aim is to alert the learners to make the correct subject choices for a possible career in IT.  For grades 10, 11 and12 the aim is to encourage those with aptitude to plan for a tertiary course in IT.
“We would like to encourage young people with the necessary talent to make the right subject choices and consider a career in IT,” adds Waker.  “At the same time it helps tertiary institutions if students without the necessary aptitude avoid registering for Computer Science.  All too often students discover their lack of aptitude and/or interest when they have already enrolled for an IT course, and when it is too late to change courses.”
The second round requires participants to have the use of a computer and be familiar with a computer language – any computer language. The second round also takes place at participants’ own schools or nearby computer centres but, for the third round, participants are brought together in Cape Town.  
Four winners of the third round will be selected to represent South Africa at the International Olympiad in Informatics in Thailand in 2011.
In addition to the usual R37 000 prize money, IT billionaire Mark Shuttleworth has made an additional R100 000 prize money available for the third round for learners using the computer language Python.
The first round of the Standard Bank/CSSA Computer Olympiad takes place on Friday 19 March at registered schools.