State of the program: PCs in schools

The Federal Government has promised to spend $2 billion to give a PC to every Australian student in years nine to 12. But where is the program at so far? Our round-up shows the state of Kevin Rudd's initiative.
Written by Alex Serpo, Contributor on

The Federal Government has promised to spend $2 billion to give a PC to every Australian student in years nine to 12. But where is the program at so far?

The government's plan began with a promise of $1 billion in November 2007, as part of an ambitious program dubbed the "digital education revolution".

An additional $807 million for the program was served up 12 months later.

The first round of funding occurred in June 2008, while the second round occurred at the end of January this year.

In addition to PCs for schools, the Federal Government's funding will be used for direct fibre connections to schools, ICT training for teachers and funds for the development of online curriculum tools.

State Total funding Total no. of PCs delivered No. of schools
NSW $91.7 million 91,677 631
Vic $64.2 million 64,128 540
QLD $47.9 million 47,759 431
WA $20.6 million 20,594 235
SA $19.8 million 19,819 225
Tas $6.3 million 6,316 103
ACT $5.9 million 5,837 39
NT $2.0 million 2,041 68
Totals $258.4 million 258,171 2,272

New South Wales
NSW Education Minister Verity Firth said that the Federal Government had assigned NSW $189 million to support the program, with the state so far receiving $91 million.

The $200 million NSW tender stipulated that the notebooks be worth no more than AU$500, with this price meaning that students would be supplied with miniature notebooks, commonly known as netbooks.

A spokesperson for Firth's office said that "with on-costs, our approach delivers one-to-one computing for around $2,245 per student over four years".

The spokesperson also said that the netbooks would be locked to the Education Department's secure network, and internet traffic coming through the netbooks would be filtered. The tender also stipulated that the netbooks be graffiti-proof.

The NSW tender closed at the end of January, and is intended to supply the almost 200,000 students, as well as wirelessly connect more than 570 of the state's high schools. Year nine students in NSW will begin receiving their laptops this year.

Victoria Premier John Brumby said that the 19,819 computers delivered through the federal program would "open the door for thousands of students at more than 344 schools in regional and traditionally lower socio-economic areas to keep pace with all the benefits of modern learning".

The Victorian Government said they would be rolling out netbooks from both Lenovo and Acer, with Lenovo supplying IdeaPad S9 netbooks. Parents in Victoria will be expected to pay an additional $52 a year over three years, totalling $156. The schools will retain ownership of the netbooks.

According to information from the Federal Government, Victoria will receive $44 million in round two of funding, taking the State's total to 64,128 computers delivered so far.

Queensland Education and Training Minister Rod Welford said in a statement that the program is a "major initiative for us, and complements our own initiative of providing laptops for teachers".

"It's brought to an end the haggling over whether adequate funds will be available for software and maintenance of the computers," he said.

According to the Federal Government, Queensland will receive $41 million for 40,955 computers in the second round of funding, taking them to a total of 47,759 computers delivered through the Federal Government's program so far.

Western Australia
Bevan Doyle, chief information officer, Department of Education and Training said that 38 WA public schools had been successful in round one of funding, resulting in a recent purchase of 1,243 computers.

In round two of funding, 79 public schools were successful and by June this year it should result in an additional 15,000 computers into WA schools.

Doyle says that by June this will result in a ratio of two students to a computer. Funding negotiations to bring the ratio to one-to-one are continuing between the Western Australian and Federal governments.

Western Australian schools will receive $15.79 million, resulting in 20,594 computers delivered in WA under the program.

South Australia
The Department of Education and Children's Services' deputy chief executive Gino Degennaro, said that last week 4,115 desktop, laptop and netbook computers were delivered to SA schools.

In addition, the department of education is finalising a further 327 Apple computers.

The SA department of education is also focusing closely on teacher training, with "masterclasses" available in a range of ICT topics, including New and Emerging Technologies and Virtual Learning Environments.

The Federal Government said that South Australia received $14.3 million in round two funding, which brings the total number of PCs delivered in SA so far to 19,819.

Like NSW, Tasmania will be providing additional funding along with the federal funding to support the program.

A spokesperson for David Bartlett, Tasmanian premier and minister for education said that 13 schools in Tasmania had been successful in the first round of Federal Government funding.

The Federal Government said that the second round of funding added an additional 80 schools. Tasmanian schools will receive $5.2 million from the second round of funding — bringing the total number of PCs rolled out to 6,316.

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