Australian government quietly ends laptops in schools program

Australian government quietly ends laptops in schools program

Summary: The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations has confirmed that year 9 to year 12 students in 2013 will be the last to receive laptops under the current scheme.

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While the Federal Budget last week did not specify whether the laptop in schools program would continue, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has today confirmed that the project will be discontinued at the end of 2013.

Then opposition leader Kevin Rudd announced the digital education revolution (DER) program before the 2007 election that would see every student from years 9 to 12 given laptops, in a program worth AU$1 billion.

He said at the time that it would not be a "one-off" and indicated that the government would fund the replacement of the systems "to keep them at the cutting edge".

Over five years on, and the government, now led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, has spent AU$2.1 billion and, despite a slow start, met its target last year, delivering 967,000 laptops across the country.

But despite the pledge from former Prime Minister Rudd to keep replacing the devices, the department confirmed the axing of the scheme for the end of 2013, when the last AU$242 million of funding to sustain the 1:1 ratio will run out.

"The DER was only ever intended to be a one-off, short-term program to help bring Australian schools up to standard in terms of ICT resources. We have achieved this, and in many cases, exceeded our targets," a department spokesperson said.

The spokesperson indicated that funding would now come through the AU$9.8 billion National Plan for School Improvement, which came out of the David Gonski review into school funding.

The department spokesperson said that the plan would empower schools to make the decisions on how to allocate funding to, among other things, IT resources.

"We know that schools are best placed to decide on the resources they really need and under the National Plan they will be given the choice on how best to allocate the extra money they receive," the spokesperson said.

"For individual schools, this means the funding will help them to equip their schools with better resources and IT equipment, like Smart boards, computers, iPads and tablets that can capitalise on the National Broadband Network (NBN)."

The plan will require all states to sign on to it, in order for it to go ahead. Gillard has been campaigning on the issue for the past few weeks, but will need to win over several Liberal premiers in order to succeed. So far only New South Wales has signed on.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Education

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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9 comments
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  • Oh really!

    "The spokesperson indicated that funding would now come through the AU$9.8 billion National Plan for School Improvement, which came out of the David Gonski review into school funding."

    "For individual schools, this means the funding will help them to equip their schools with better resources and IT equipment, like Smart boards, computers, iPads and tablets that can capitalise on the National Broadband Network (NBN)."

    Gonski is funded to only 4% in the first year and does not reach full funding until at least 2019.

    Only NSW has signed to Gonski.
    Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • "Only NSW has signed to Gonski"

      Even that's not set in stone.
      kunalnanda
  • Shenton College (Perth) has already

    taken the notebooks away from its Year 12's. In November 2012, my Year 11 daughter was required to hand in her school issued,DEEWR funded, macbook because the macbook was required for Year 8's in 2013. In it's place, she was given a note on where I could buy her a new macbook from a school approved local supplier at an inflated price ($150 over Apple store price) for Year 12. Many of the Year 12's do not have notebooks/macbooks at school this year but despite this most of their classes include online content they can only access at home and then only if they were able to download the content onto a thumbdrive while in class.
    clane_
  • No need for handouts - BYOT is the way to go

    Over the years schools have provided all sorts of equipment for students in schools - pencils, books, calculators, even milk for morning tea!

    The world has moved on. The majority of students - at least in high schools, but increasingly in primary schools - have access to their own tablet or smart phone, so we need to leverage the use of this personal technology in our learning programs. Just as we have done with personally-owned pencils, books and calculators. There is no longer a need for a systemic hand-out of laptops and other technology devices.

    Learning using their own tools is more authentic experience for students, and is accessible 24/7. It is all about 'ownership'. BYOT is the way to go. Schools need to focus on the provision of first-rate wireless networks to support student and staff-owned devices.

    Along with comprehensive PD programs for teachers in the use of anytime-anywhere cloud-based software and services, from a variety of providers. Most of which are free, or very low cost.
    educloud
  • BYOT or BYOD

    Is a mistake at schools, it will lead to a digital divide going back to the US and Them argument.
    The trouble with a lot of people is they have lost touch with reality, there are people in the community that struggle to afford one pc for the whole family, that alone on tablet or PC for each child. Not to mention schools who try and push students into the high expense area of iProducts.
    martin_js
  • Robbing Peter

    What a load of rubbish! The point to Gonski was to try to get the message through that education needs more money - and a lot of it - not MOVED money. How are they funding this more money? By shutting down established services and then spinning that educators can have a say in how it gets spent. Be honest - if we can't fund Gonski then say so. Don't rob Peter to pay Paul and then pat yourselves on the back for doing a good job and delivering on promises.
    RealityfromTony
  • nightmare!

    This program was always going to end in tears. I wonder what roi we have received for the money spent.
    Yes the success of any high cost scheme should be measured to enable us to learn and improve next time.
    Blank Look
  • Another good idea, poor execution

    In simplistic terms, Labor have decent ideas, however their execution of ideas is very bad. Instead of allow the kids to keep each laptop, the Government should have developed a strategic sourcing & leasing model that allowed bulk lease of the same laptop across all the states/territories. This way all the support costs such as software licences, infrastructure and training support would have been the same and easily manageable. It would have also been logical and more efficient having this leasing model in place so that with (for example) a 3 year lease option, laptops could be rotated among leaving and new students. i.e. When a yr 12 student leaves, they don't keep the laptop, it is returned to the school and provided to the next Year 8 student and so on. At the end, the school retains the asset (funded by the government), the asset is provided to the student at no cost while they use it. If they lose it they are charged. If it gets stolen, it would be covered under a government insurance policy.
    computerman214
  • Just another school fee

    My daughter got her Mac Book Pro since first year (private) High school.
    After paying over 3 years $360 every month it's ours (that's over $4300 for the old dated model).
    The beauty is that she got limited user rights and only the school IT department can install drivers - and they fail to do this so far 100%.
    She is therefore not able to use her mobile broadband stick or print anything at home (without transfering it per PDF to one of our PC's).
    So for the extra money paid you will not get any good support and can't fix it yourself, but it is insured with $200 excess [so that you still pay most of any repair].
    As much as I in general like the idea of any support of the government in providing the best possible education for our children - I think neither the government nor the school red tape should interfere in this area, when (some if not most) parents would be more happy to select something more appropiate (faster, lighter, cheaper and supportable).
    That way they could even install software to monitor and or restrict the use which the school "forgot" to do.
    Therefore I am happy to go for the BYO option, but would not mind some tax benefits to do so and save the government and us some money.
    WhatIsGoingOn