The Federal Government has claimed it is on track to fully deliver a total of 696,000 PCs under its Computers in Schools program, however, current rollout rates suggest a shortfall of some 203,143 computers by the initiative’s December 2011 deadline.
According to the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), 345,000 units have been rolled out to date since November 2007 — just 44 per cent of the total 696,000 computers funded — at an average rollout rate of 9,857 PCs per month across government and independent schools.
That rate has increased since June, when Prime Minister Julia Gillard was forced to defend the program as on track. However, with 15 months remaining, the department must deliver 351,000 PCs at a rollout rate of 23,400 per month — two and a half times the current rate — in order to meet set targets. Based on the current rate of 9857 PCs per month, the Government would under-deliver by 203,143 units by the 2011 deadline.
The cost of the Digital Education Revolution program has also increased from the $1.2 billion originally promised in 2007 election, to $2.4 billion, recent injections of up to $300 million provided by government to see the rollout's continuation for up to seven years in total.
According to the DEEWR, current delays with the rollout could be attributed to the program's reliance on partnerships with state and territory government and non-government education authorities to implement the National Secondary School Computer Fund.
“Education authorities have primary responsibility for decisions about design, purchase, distribution and the use of educational hardware and software to meet the specific needs of their schools,” a department spokesperson told Computerworld Australia.
“All education authorities have developed detailed Implementation Plans outlining their approach to achieving the 1:1 ratio by the end of 2011.”
The program is also inclusive of upgrades to school networks and the creation of a $70 million Vocational Education Network that will see TAFE and higher education institutions connected by fibre for internal communication.
In June, parents of NSW school children were advised that they could be liable for damage to their child’s laptop computers issued under the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution program, despite evidence that the protective cases issued with the laptops do not close properly.