Twice the number of schools expected participated in the Computer Applications Olympiad this year, with finalists from six provinces converging on the University of Cape Town to compete for the co.za Cares trophy.

The Computer Applications Olympiad (CAO) challenges the skills of learners in the use of Computer Office packages like Microsoft Office, Open Office and Libre Office.  The competition is open to all full-time school learners in South Africa, but is aimed at high school learners.

The Computer Society of South Africa has been running a Programming Olympiad for 28 years. However, that competition did not cater for the school subject CAT, (Computer Application Technology) introduced in recent years. CAT students learn how to use office applications and is popular among both boys and girls in all schools, including disadvantaged schools.

The first Applications Olympiad took place in 2010, with more than 6 000 learners from 118 schools taking part. In 2011, a surprising 13 000 learners from almost 400 schools entered.

In Round One, learners were asked to use their skills in extracting and manipulating information from data provided on a CD using word processing, spreadsheets and a database.  For the final rounds, 13 participants from six different provinces were brought to Cape Town and tasked with creating or manipulating various documents for an estate agency.

Gold medal winner and winner of the co.za Cares Trophy was last year’s silver medal winner, Helen Denny from grade 12 at La Rochelle Girls High in Paarl.

Silver medals went to Jaco Nortier of Paarl Gymnasium and Sean Wentzel of Westerford High School.

Bronze medals were won by Erns Labuschagné and Richard Saunders, both of Paarl Gymnasium and René Engelbrecht from the Hoër Volkskool, Potchefstroom.