The South Australian Government is set to fork out around $70 million over five years to give all senior public school students in the state a laptop.
South Australia’s Laptops for Students program, announced on 29 January by the State Government, aims to put a laptop into the hands of every year 10 student in the state by 2019.
By 2021, the program will eventually see all students from years 10, 11 and 12 with their own personal laptop that they will be able to keep after graduating and use to commence further studies or when they join the workforce.
The initiative, which is likely to represent major Government procurement dollars for at least one partner or vendor operating in the local market, will kick off with a trial laptop rollout for a number of schools in the second term of 2018.
Schools that already have school owned laptop programs in place will allocate the devices currently being used by year 10 students to other students in the school.
The $70 million student laptop funding comes after Federal Government funding for senior school student laptops dried up in 2013.
“This program will help students to achieve their best, while developing the digital skills and knowledge critical to pursuing future job opportunities,” South Australia’s Premier, Jay Weatherill, said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
On 28 January, the South Australian Government said that internet speeds for public schools and preschools across the state will become 10 times faster on average, as part of an internet infrastructure investment worth tens of millions of dollars.
The upgrades will be carried out over the next two years and all schools and preschools will have improved bandwidth by 2020, the Government said. Average speeds under the program are estimated to increase from 10.95Mbs before the upgrades to 97.1Mbs after the upgrades.
The broadband upgrade across 900 of South Australia’s public schools and pre-schools will take two years to complete, and is expected to create investment and jobs during the rollout.
South Australia has forked out enormous sums on IT over the past year, with the State Government striking a $394 million, multi-year end user computing contract with CSC – now DXC Technology – in early 2017.
When it signed the deal, the SA Government said that CSC (DXC Technology) would provide and support desktop PCs, laptops and tablets to the state’s government agencies, with much of the government’s IT hardware footprint set to be handled by the IT services provider.