Schools laptop audit completed amid govt silence

Schools laptop audit completed amid govt silence

Summary: After question marks had arisen over the combined efforts of the federal government, COAG and state and territory authorities to audit the state of IT in Australia's secondary schools as the first step in Labor's so-called "digital education revolution", the Department of Education has announced today that the audit is complete.

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After question marks had arisen over the combined efforts of the federal government, COAG and state and territory authorities to audit the state of IT in Australia's secondary schools as the first step in Labor's so-called digital education revolution, the Department of Education has announced today that the audit is complete.

However, a Department of Education spokesperson said that, although the audit has been finalised, the government does not intend on publishing any of its results, despite assurances last week they would be made public pending the consent of certain schools.

"Whether or not we publish the data by individual schools we will need to consult on because individual schools will need to consent as to the publication of their data," said Dr Evan Arthur, group manager of the Digital Education Revolution Group.

The announcement comes after statements made to the Senate Estimates Hearing Committee last week revealed that the audit, which was administered by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) -- Australia's joint intergovernmental forum -- was only days away from completion.

When asked at the hearing by Senator Brett Mason, Opposition spokesperson for education, whether or not the government knew how many computers students in years nine to 12 had access to, Secretary for the Department of Education Lisa Paul said: "Certainly this month, indeed in the next week or so, we will have a clear picture through that comprehensive audit."

"Last week we had 91 percent of the data, but it had not been compiled. Then the data needs to go back and be verified," Paul added.

Liberal Senator Sue Boyce suggested that the government had missed its own deadline, telling the Committee she had information that the audit was due for completion by mid-February.

"Overall, we are required by the policy to open up applications for this first round [of funding for computers in schools] within a hundred days of the election of the Rudd government, which is interpreted as a hundred days from the swearing-in of the Rudd government," Digital Education Revolution Group's Arthur responded.

"So the data which will be the basis for those decisions will have to be publicly available before 11 March," Arthur added.

After the committee hearing last week, Liberal Senator Mason accused the government of overstating the countries "digital divide" in secondary schools, while at the same time claiming it had also underfunded its plans for the digital education initiative.

Topics: Government, CXO, Government AU, IT Employment

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