South Australian Labor promises to hand out laptops to Year 10 students

Schools will get broadband upgrades while kids get to keep a piece of hardware.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Should Labor be returned to government in South Australia, each Year 10 student in the state will walk away with a laptop thanks to the state government.

The election announcement is set to cost the state AU$70 million over five years. Trials are slated for this year, with deployment to happen in 2019, and all students in the last three years of high school in the state are to have the laptops by 2021. Students will be allowed to keep the laptop after they leave high school.

Over the weekend, South Australian Labor also announced that it would upgrade the broadband to all public schools and preschools in the state.

"Not every family can afford a home computer, let alone personal laptops for their children," state Premier Jay Weatherill said in a statement.

"This program will help students to achieve their best, while developing the digital skills and knowledge critical to pursuing future job opportunities. Coupled with a major upgrade to broadband speeds, public school students are being set up to succeed in a world where online learning and literacy has become critical to education."

Over a decade ago, then federal Labor opposition leader Kevin Rudd promised AU$1 billion would be allocated to give every senior secondary school student in years 9 to 12 a laptop.

After five years, the program delivered 967,000 laptops, and was quietly shelved in 2013.

South Australia has upped its digital game in recent times.

In November, its police force said automated number plate recognition would be used to track potential arsonists during the bushfire season.

The state's police had used the system in 2016 to identify 86 persons of interest, with 15 of those arrested for fire starting and related offences.

Last month, the state government said it was dropping the Alert SA app, after it crashed during a bad bushfire weekend and could not send out emergency warnings.

Instead of renewing a AU$284,000 contract with the app makers in June, the state will develop its own mobile phone warning system.

South Australia will head to the polls on March 17.

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