Abbott’s school laptop cuts to cost 600 jobs

Posted on August 3, 2010


Fran Foo From: The Australian

TONY Abbott’s plan to scrap Labor’s $2 billion digital education revolution program would cost almost 600 jobs in NSW alone.

Children entering Year 9 would not receive a computer each under an Abbott-led government, although the Coalition would try to honour all supplier contracts inked under Labor’s DER scheme.

Mr Abbott has vowed to scrap the DER program if the Coalition wins the August 21 poll.

But the Labor initiative has won the support of many students, teachers and parents, especially in NSW, where free laptops for less fortunate students have fostered a sense of equity.

It is also in NSW that the federal government funding has been topped up by the state to ensure more than 250,000 laptops are given away to secondary school students and teachers over four years.

Other states used existing hardware and software panels, but NSW centralised procurement and maintenance of laptops acquired under the DER scheme.

At the end of last financial year, NSW had received $342 million for the program.

The funding was used to distribute almost 130,000 laptops to students and employ more than 580 technology support officers, a NSW Department of Education and Training spokesman said.

DER funding has been used to purchase more than $80m worth of equipment for 577 government schools in NSW for students in Year 9 and above.

Without the DER funding, technology support officers would be out of work, he said.

NSW has many contracts tied to the DER rollout, including a $150m deal with Lenovo for laptops and $70m for wireless networks with IBM.

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