The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is currently undertaking an audit into the state of IT in Australian secondary schools, with comments made by Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday confirming that the "digital divide" is a real phenomena.
COAG, the joint intergovernmental forum which brings together federal, state, and local delegates of Australian government is due to deliver the audit to the office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet by mid-February, and early indications of its conclusions have pointed to a significant digital gap between some schools across the country.
"We particularly want to make sure that kids in upper secondary get the benefit of having computers integrated into the way in which they learn; that they've got access to computers, every kid with access to a computer. Not the way it is now, where some schools have virtually no access," said Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, speaking at a press conference in Melbourne yesterday.
Commissioned in December last year, at the first meeting of the Council under the newly-elected Labor government, the audit is expected to substantially inform plans for Kevin Rudd's so-called digital education revolution".
State and territory governments were instructed by the Prime Minister to immediately administer an IT audit of each of their schools.
COAG will also oversee the work of implementation groups for the Independent and Catholic school systems across the states as part of the digital education plan, in lieu of the direct coordination between public schools and the various state and territory governments.
The audit has the principal aim of identifying the schools and areas most in need so that a digital "triage" can be applied.
Acting Prime Minister Gillard said the program will benefit all schools but "rollout priority will be given to those in the greatest need".
She went on to describe the government's billion dollar digital education fund as a "big promise to deliver", but one which has the money behind it already.
"The education revolution is funded. It's in the forward estimates that we filed in the election campaign," she said.