Around 500 public schools across South Australia are now benefiting from high-speed internet after connecting to a Telstra fibre optic network capable of speeds of 1Gbps and up.
Education Minister John Gardner on Tuesday said the government was nearing the completion of the state’s $80 million Schools With internet Fibre Technology (SWiFT) internet program.
The state Department of Education began the state-wide rollout of fibre optic cable to schools early last year after signing with Telstra.
It aims to connect 514 of the state’s 518 public schools to high-speed fibre optic cable under the program by the end of this year.
The remaining four public schools, including the remote Oak Valley Aboriginal School, will also receive high-speed internet, though this won’t be delivered by fibre optic cable.
The government on Tuesday said the vast majority of public schools had now been connected, with 179,000 students and 22,000 teachers benefiting from the rollout.
Only around 11 in-scope regional and remote sites “complex implementation requirements” are yet to be connected, though these are on track to receive high-speed internet by the end of 2020.
Gardner said the high-speed internet connections would help deliver better educational outcomes for students.
“This $130 million investment is bringing SA schools and preschools into the 21st century, opening up a world of learning resources and opportunities for staff and students across the state,” he said.
“Our teachers and students deserve access to high speed, stable internet, and this technology will help future proof the South Australian education system for years to come.”
The government has also begun extending the rollout to the state’s preschools and children’s centres under a separate $50 million investment.
Around 150 preschools have been connected to date, with all remaining preschools to receive high-speed internet by mid-2021.
The $50 million investment will also cover “improved internet security across all schools, improved content filtering software and a modern network architecture”.
“We are now working hard on the second stage of this program, completing connections to all our preschools and children’s centres, as well as those few regional sites with complex implementation requirements, to ensure that no-one is left behind,” Gardner said.
Telstra’s enterprise and government SA/NT state manager Adam Oliver said the partnership between Telstra and the department would help bring schools “closer together in terms of their access to technology and learning”.