The government is racing to meet the 31 December 2011 deadline to complete its laptops in schools roll-out, but the government risks missing the bigger picture by focusing on just reaching the finish of the program with all devices delivered.
The Federal Government program to deliver a computer to every child from year nine to year 12 was first announced in 2007 by the newly elected Rudd Labor Government as part of the $2.2 billion Digital Education Revolution scheme.
After three years, a change of Prime Minister and an election, an audit report released earlier this year showed that at the end of 2010, just 268,000 of the 700,000 laptops had been rolled out. Or around 38 per cent.
The government is still optimistic, though. Yesterday, Garrett said that as of March, the government had rolled out 55 per cent of the total laptops, which is a whopping 17 per cent higher than the three months before it, so it's no wonder that Garrett said the program was "well on track for completion". If his figure is correct, in the first three months of this year, the government managed to roll out an additional 117,000 computers.
It is an impressive effort, considering how long it took them to roll out the first 40 per cent; however, you would hope the government is rolling this out appropriately to schools rather than just dishing them out speedily Oprah-style in order to meet the deadline.
You get a laptop! And you get a laptop! And you get a laptop!
It is important to remember that it also took the axe to ICT support and computer literacy training for teachers in this year's federal budget. So while at the end of 2011, all these students will have shiny new laptops, their teachers might not be able to instruct them in exactly how to use them.
The government should be focused on having this policy implemented sensibly, with the right training measures for both staff and students, rather than being rushed to meet some arbitrary point in time for pure political gloating purposes.