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Computers in schools blow-out dents confidence in new schools package.



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Wed, 4th February 2009

COMPUTERS IN SCHOOLS BLOW-OUT DENTS CONFIDENCE IN NEW SCHOOLS PACKAGE

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training

The Computers in Schools cost blow-outs, and other failures of the so-called ‘education revolution’ leaves little confidence in the Government’s ability to deliver on the new programs in the stimulus package said Shadow Education Minister Christopher Pyne today. “As part of a more modest stimulus package the Coalition advocates a revival of the extremely popular and highly effective Investing In Our Schools program,” said Mr Pyne.

“The Investing In Our Schools program would not be directed to state governments to manage, or mismanage, as is the Government’s program. Instead Investing In Our Schools would see funds go directly to school governing councils, to support infrastructure and refurbishment programs identified at the local school level, ensuring money reaches it’s target without a cut going to the middle man of State Governments.

“These funds could be used for any infrastructure project, large or small, or school refurbishment, enabling all schools to address their specific needs.

“This is a prudent, responsible, response to the crisis.

“With limited information or data about the effectiveness of the previous $10+ billion stimulus package, this response allows room to move if further stimulus is required, without unnecessarily plunging the budget immediately into deficit.

“More money for education and schools is always welcome, but it is not just a matter of how much money is being spent, but the ability to deliver,” he said.

“The Computers in Schools program was supposed to deliver a laptop to every student in Australia for $1 billion. The program is now at $2 billion and we’re still only working towards a computer for every second student.

“If the promise of a new hall for every school follows the same route, the $14.7 billion program will end up costing $29.4 billion, and only deliver a hall to every second school.

“Kevin Rudd promised a Trades Training Centre for every school in the election, but the reality has been that the funding provided has been so low that up to ten schools are being forced to share a centre. If the Government is to fulfil its promise of a new hall in ‘every one of Australia’s 7,700 primary schools’, then they will need to do better than their track record would suggest they can.

“The failure of the Government’s first $10+ billion stimulus package is a stark reminder that it is not enough to just have a package: you also have to make sure it works.

“This Government must learn to walk before it can run. The part-time Education Minister Julia Gillard needs to step up and become the full time Education or Employment Minister

Australia needs in this crisis. Now is the worst possible time to have one Minister trying to do both jobs.”