Saturday, June 1, 2013

BYO laptop to school as funds dry up

Many schools will ask students to provide their own smartphones, tablets and laptops when a federal program which gave every student in years 9 to 12 access to a computer ends at the end of this month.

A report commissioned by the Gillard government found rapid advances in technology and growth in students owning their own smartphones and tablets, combined with their declining cost, supported schools introducing a ''bring your own device'' policy.

However, while it may ease school budgets, asking parents to pay for technology raises equity issues for disadvantaged students.

The $2.1 billion ''digital education revolution'' was a key plank of Labor's 2007 election pitch.

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Federal budget papers say the promised 1:1 computer to student ratio was achieved nationally, with more than 967,000 computers installed in secondary schools.

However the funding agreement ends on June 30, creating headaches for schools faced with the need to replace ageing computers.

Federal School Education Minister Peter Garrett said federal school funding reforms, which have only been endorsed by NSW and ACT, would reduce equity issues. ''Under our plan, schools will be able to dedicate funds to areas they believe will improve a student's education and this may include smart devices, computers and laptops,'' he said.

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