Feds detail replacement plans for school computers

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Feds detail replacement plans for school computers

Adobe software for the cost of coffee.

The Government expects to replace more than 160,000 computers provided to secondary school students as part of the Digital Education Revolution (DER) by 2013.

Officials from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) today said it was on track to deliver one computer for every Year 9-12 student by the end of next year.

It revealed plans to spend $74 million of its 2013-14 'sustainment' budget on replacing 'obsolete' computers. A total of $200 million had been provisionally allocated to the DER for that financial year in the May 2010 Budget.

DEEWR's Digital Education Group manager Evan Arthur described obsolete devices as those which had been in use for at least four years.

He foresaw a need to replace an additional 230,000 computers per year in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years.

When questioned about costs, Arthur said the Government's central bulk buying arrangements delivered sufficient discounts to keep the DER within budget.

He said the CIO of one New South Wales school had been able to procure Adobe software for "essentially the cost of a cup of coffee per year", and significantly less than Adobe's standard recommended retail price (RRP).

Such pricing was also available to other schools, he said. "The price effects of this program are available nationally."

The Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations heard that 297,500 computers of the 788,000 computers to be funded by the DER had already been installed, .

While the price of each computer varied according to its specifications, most of these were netbooks costing under $500 per unit, Arthur said.

The Government has not yet announced the funds available to the program after the 2013-14 financial year. However, DEEWR Secretary Lisa Paul said it was committed to sustaining installed devices.

"The program doesn't terminate [after installation]," she said. "We're not talking about a once-off installation; once we've got computers to the 1:1 ratio, we've got to sustain them."

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