Rudd promises a computer on every school desk

Rudd promises a computer on every school desk

Summary: Labor party leader Kevin Rudd has today promised a AU$1 billion fund to give every senior secondary school student in years 9 to 12 access to a computer at school.

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Labor party leader Kevin Rudd has today promised a AU$1 billion fund to give every senior secondary school student in years 9 to 12 access to a computer at school.

Speaking at the ALP's federal election campaign launch in Brisbane, Rudd said that the "groundbreaking reform" would make every secondary school in Australia a "digital school".

"I want to provide every secondary school student in Australia with the foundations to move into the digital economy of the future," he said.

Rudd promised that the investment would not be a 'one-off', acknowledging the need to keep computer systems up to date.

"We'll fund replacement of these systems to keep them at the cutting edge," he said. "And for those schools that have already provided computers each or most of their students, our plan will allow ... to upgrade what they already have."

The ALP's National Secondary School Computer Fund offers all high schools whether public or private a mechanism to apply for grants of up to AU$1 million for the supply of laptops, PCs, thin clients and network infrastructure.

Rudd also stepped up his attack on the government's technology credentials, highlighting the need for faster broadband and an answer to the skills crisis.

The ALP has already promised that 99 per cent of school children would have access to connections of up to 100 Mbps under its national network plan, with the remaining over per cent covered by fixed line, wireless and satellite connections.

"Mr Howard seems to believe that providing our young people with computers is exotic," he said. "Mr Howard just doesn't get it. Around the rest of the world, its not exotic, its mainstream."

While making no specific mention of the technology industry, Rudd acknowledged that more generally Australia is suffering from "an acute skills crisis".

"The government itself projects that Australia will suffer a shortage of qualified workers of up to 200,000 by 2010," he warned.

To that end, Rudd announced that he would tackle the crisis with four years of funding for an additional 450,000 training places -- including 65,000 apprenticeships, across industries.

Topics: IT Employment, Government, Government AU, Hardware, Laptops

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12 comments
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  • Why not OLPC Australia ?

    The ideal way to implement this policy would surely be through a "One Laptop Per Child" style project. The hardware exists, and using stable, open source software, it is a good deal less than 200 dollars per student, all up. This would be extremely cost-effective: compare 1 billion dollars spent on PC / Windows style architecture, which might allow students "access" to computers, but not to have continuous use of the same machine - something which would genuinely revolutionise the interaction of students with technology and computers.

    Imagine online access to digital textbooks, assignments, class notes, etc. etc. from anywhere in the school and at home. It would also not take much to create many new applications suitable for schools, and user content would no doubt take off quickly.

    If this is integrated into the existing OLPC program, it would also provide a boost and a model for implementation of this excellent project in less developed countries.
    anonymous
  • olpc

    absolutely, especially with the windows/osx gui of the latest ubuntu release, it would also allow students to realise that computers arent windows and vice versa. Failing that, let microsoft subsidise. as a government employee i know that each copy of vista is approx $25
    anonymous
  • Great ideas but...

    Unfortunately its all about being a western nation (meaning American) and using Wintel offerings.

    Really the arguement should be about quality of learning, and the MacOSX has some great learning software. But how does a government body go against the grain of Microsoft marketting in such a fickle and expensive area.

    When it comes to spending big the safe bet always wins - which is unfortunate for the childern.

    Perhaps a diversification program could be part of the package to show children that the computing world isn't branded with only the MicroSoft way of thinking.
    anonymous
  • What?

    (DRGC)

    First poster:

    I can see the black market in laptop computers rising significantly. I'm not all that long out of high school and I wouldn't give a laptop to more than half the students I went to school with - now think of this on a national scale.

    Digital textbooks, remote access to learning materials, it's all sounds wonderful - but lets get kids using computers first, you know, turning it on? You're not looking at the larger picture here, not everyone is that well off.

    It would be more feasible for the Department of Education and Training to host centralised learning resources through their new, improved, spent lots of money on, DET Portal instead of each school reinventing the wheel.

    Second and Third Poster:

    It's really nice you have opinions and all but it's not going to make a shred of difference what operating system the computers come with. It's not a matter of getting back at Microsoft, or fairness between operating systems. Fact of the matter is, students will be taught to use the platform their teachers are most familiar with, end of story.

    It's about getting technology to kids and reducing the digital divide, not promoting harmony between Linux and Microsoft users.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not Microsoft fan boy either but try stay on topic.

    In Addition:

    Typically, children today grow up with computers in their bedrooms, Internet hooked up, iPods hanging out of their ears and so on. I said typically, not everyone. Some kids can't touch a computer at school let alone know what an 80GB iPod is.

    Giving every kid a laptop to take home isn't really an option either. Force them to sign an agreement, lock them with down with group policies and one of three things will happen:

    1) They won't be used because they aren't interested, or don't know enough about them to be interested or use them

    2) They'll be used and abused, get lost, stolen and will need replacing

    3) They get used properly and they all live happily ever after
    anonymous
  • double what?

    re: "more feasible for the DET to host centralised learning resources".. What so children can access e-learning by telepathy?

    re: "students will be taught to use the platform their teachers are most familiar with" Yes, some IT teachers are poorly skilled. As a secondary school teacher, I commonly observe elective IT students are far more knowledgeable than their teachers... students have the time to teach the teachers, but often the teachers are to proud to learn.

    Furthermore, the OS/GUI discussion is very much topically focused: cost, functionality and GPL vs DRM are crucial factors to be considered.

    Granted, your final points 1 & 2 are an issue.
    anonymous
  • laptops for high school children

    i just want to ask a question regarding the laptops for highschool children.. . . would these children be allowed to keep the laptops or would they have to leave them at school when they graduate from yr 12?
    anonymous
  • OLPCs for high school?

    The OLPC is very much designed for children ages 6-12, and is physically inappropriate for the target audience of the Government's current computers-for-schools project (which focuses on middle to senior high school).

    So while the OLPC may not be appropriate for this particular use case, there are plenty of opportunities for it in our country and region.

    Look forward to the OLPC Australia project and organisation: http://www.olpc.org.au/ :-)
    anonymous
  • !!

    Why can't he provide schools with more laptops, rather than give them to each individual student I know that having enough laptops for my teachers to book so that we can access computers from our classrooms without having to book the library which is ALWAYS full, and if I'm in year nine and can see that why is it that a fully grown man can't? Isn't it a bit of a waste to give a child a laptop who might not respect what they have been given?
    anonymous
  • relply

    this is a total failure, -and an over shoot- no student would ever bother respecting or using the laptops for the intended purpose..
    anonymous
  • city slickers need to get out of the concrete jungle!

    I find it amazing people talking about the typical student and typical teacher and typical classroom of australia, when there is no such thing as typical, the pollies have come from high class private education where laptops are leased or bought by students from primary age (in some). and yet here you are discussing what is the best option for what to give them, why not make them work for it and stop giving the younger generation everything free, how will they learn to respect anything if it is handed to them on a silver platter? from my experience with teenagers, those that have had to earn what they have are more respectful of others and their own belongings and those that have been 'spoilt' and given everything they could ever want are disrespectful and unappreciative of thier belongings let alone others property. look at the news and the crime that is out there with robberies and assaults? would people have dreamed of doing such crime 50 years ago? the answer is NO one because they knew they would cop a hiding off their family and 2 because society would simply not put up with it, we are not america so why dont we stop trying to compete with them! I know my opinion is prolly not appreciated by many but it needs to be said, this country is becoming so educated people arent interested in doing the things that are needed, it is almost impossible to find a job without having a peice of paper to say you can do it, even though you may well have been doing that exact task for the last 10 years. not everyone is going to be an IT technnician or a computer programmer, what about those jobs that people dont like to think of? what about the part of the country that does the stuff that keeps the country fed or clean? god forbid if all electricity was to shut down, how many of you concerned with making sure every aussie kid is computer literate would be able to survive in a world without electricity let alone the other mod cons you have learn to take for granted? how about we teach our kids what a real aussie is instead of teaching them what its like to be a city slicker and americanised moron?
    and for those saying who the hell is she to say this crap sitting on a computer... I am one of the lucky few who have been able to experience both ends of society, ive lived in the slums of society and mixed with the rich and posh, and i would choose the slums any day over the posh stuck up paper weilding toffs of society. knowing that I can contribute to the countries food supply and keep all you morons alive is more rewarding then sitting on my ass at a desk for 8 hours a day playing with a computer. On that note, try turning your computer off for a day or two and teach the kids how to survive in one of the most unique countries in the world. teach them about what this country has to offer OUTSIDE the concrete jungle you have prolly never left!
    anonymous
  • no laptops

    teachers r now tell seniors that yr10 up will not b getting the laptops. yr9 will b n every yr9 after that so wat was all that money about that its going 2 cost billions per school wat a load of
    s--t. rudd gave away 2 much money trying 2 buy every1 that now he has 2 start 2 cut back on things eg education. alot of kids from low income families dont have computers let alone know how 2 use them. the only time at school that they have full classes is in yr11 and yr12 they only dabble with computers before these years. there are a quite a few children that are gifted with computers but more often kids know nuthing about computers. i know that alt of students are now upset with the system that has now taken the hope of a laptop away from them.
    anonymous
  • I dont want a laptop

    On the thought of receiving a laptop computer from the government later this year, along with the rest of year nine, I feel guilty, of the waste of taxpayers money, and the, however so slight, effects on the environment. I honestly can not perceive how the employment of laptops in our schools would assist education what so ever. True, the use of computer technology has some relevance, but, as with many schools within NSW, my fellow class mates and I already use computers within the classroom to a sufficient amount, through the many computer labs within our school. Further use of computers would, I believe, hinder my education, rather then benefit it.
    This is due to several factors; for one point, it is quite easy for students to subtly play computer games, which are not sufficiently blocked by the school's filtering program, without the teachers knowledge.
    Another disadvantage of employing computers further in the classroom would be the disintegration of important aspects of learning. Using computers to store notes rather than using the age old method of hand-writing would, at least for myself, not in the least assist revising or memorizing notes, I find the glare of the screen and the monotony of the fonts too distracting and disturbing. I honestly prefer to research using provided classroom textbooks as opposed to using the Internet, I find it easier to access the required information, rather than spending much stress-filled time attempting to perfect the list of key words in order to find the information desired. With the recent debate on grammar, and it's involvement in education, I am inspired to note most students would be inclined to use 'spell check' and 'grammar check', rather than practicing their knowledge whilst writing. This could become an issue if the laptops were to be gradually used with younger students, unless this function was removed from the computer. Also, handwriting would be much effected for the worse.
    Also, I recall being advised not to increase 'screen time' (including television, computer, etc.) above two hours a day. Approximately four hours a day using computers at school grossly exceeds the recommended limit. Perhaps research has since proved this wrong.
    I can not see why the money (apparently $807 million) could not be invested differently. Why not spend it on renewable energy to power some schools? Why is modernizing Australia through computer technology so important?
    anonymous