Coalition slams computers for schools delays

Coalition slams computers for schools delays

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

The Coalition has heavily criticised the Federal Labor Government’s Computers in Schools program, claiming the project is behind schedule to the tune of hundreds of thousands of machines.

Last week the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett, said more than 713,000 computers had been installed under the program, which was kicked off following then-Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s victory in the 2007 election. The remainder of the machines were to be delivered throughout the current Christmas school holidays and would be “in time for the first day of the new school year”.

However, in a statement in response this week, Shadow Minister for Education Chris Pyne claimed the Labor Government had “gone quiet” on the project as it was “hundreds of thousands of computers behind schedule. “In 2007 Kevin Rudd waved a laptop at a press conference announcing that the ‘toolbox of the 21st century’ would be delivered to every student in Australia in years 9-12,” said Pyne. “Mr Rudd promised 1,000,000 computers at $1,000 each costing the government $1 billion to be fully delivered by December 2011.”

“Upon entering office, the Education Minister Julia Gillard immediately abandoned this goal. The Government surveyed existing computers in schools that were less than four years old and have since included them in their calculations. It was a con job and a broken promise, the first of many.” Even not taking into consideration the existing computers in schools, Pyne said that the Government was far from reaching the goal of one computer per child.

In October, the government did deliver more than half of the promised million computers. There has also been a cost overrun and the computers that were initially estimated to cost $1 billion have over shot the budget to reach $2.4 billion. Pyne said that this will have an impact on the taxes that Australians pay.

In August last year the Coalition came up with its own $120 million allocation for schools which focused on options for schools. At the time, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the fund differed from Labor’s project in that it would not simply say to schools “you will get computers — whether you like them or not”.

Pyne further challenged Garrett to resign from his post for non-delivery of the computers since he has been insisting all along that the deliveries were on schedule. In February this year, the Federal Government Auditor said that the Digital Education Revolution was on track to deliver one computer per child.

At the time Pyne had predicted that “If after three years they have delivered only a third of the computers, then it seems unlikely they will manage to install the remaining two thirds in less than one year.” He added this week: “In light of this new failure, it might be time for him to reconsider his position and put the national interest ahead of his own, since even the Prime Minister wants him to resign.”