NSW bets $800 million on e-learning

The New South Wales government has outlined its IT budget initiatives with education being given the lion's share of its technology purse.The government has allocated AU$795 million over four years to improving the information technology resources in schools and TAFEs.

The New South Wales government has outlined its IT budget initiatives with education being given the lion's share of its technology purse.

The government has allocated AU$795 million over four years to improving the information technology resources in schools and TAFEs.

The state government will spend AU$544.4 million on its Computers in Schools program while AU$156.6 million will be devoted to upgrading bandwidth in schools. An additional AU$77.5 million will be set aside to establish e-learning accounts in schools and TAFEs and a further AU$16.7 million would be spent training teachers to use the systems.

Deputy premier, minister for education and training, Dr. Andrew Refshauge, said the e-learning system was expected to be rolled out to 2200 schools over the next 18 months.

"Through this new revolutionary Internet system, students as far west as Broken Hill will be able to interact with schools in Sydney or anywhere else in the State, and teachers are also able to share lessons and ideas through email and on-line educational forums," Refshauge said.

The government was also digging deep into its pockets to promote its e-government initiatives.

An integrated government licensing system, costing AU$28 million, is also designed to replace 40 existing systems. The ConnectingBusiness program is expected to provide online access to applications, renewals and other licensing information.

NSW minister for commerce John Della Bosca said that 13 licensing groups, including valuers, motor dealers and travel agents, are scheduled to come online in the current year, with 50 groups expected by 2008.

Law enforcement and emergency followed on the governments list of priorities. Over the next four years Police will receive AU$31.2 million to "digitise and encrypt the radio network and acquire additional metropolitan radio channels".

The data radio system will be delivered to the NSW Ambulance Service by the end of 2004 with another AU$7.7 million to develop an online "human services directory" to provide "secure eReferrals and build an electronic client management system for non-government organisations

The Rural Fire Service is to receive a special AU$5.9 million -- over and above its estimated AU$30.6 million budget -- over the next three years to bring its Information Management and Technology systems up to date. It will also purchase new computers as parts of its yearly asset acquisition program slated to receive AU$8 million over FY2005.

The Web-based case management system, Courtlink, which provides access to court services online, is expected to cost AU$11.3 million to complete over the coming financial year bring its total cost AU$20.9 million.