Western Australian schools will finally receive a long-promised IT upgrade after the state government managed to pull together new funding for the scheme, 18 months after declaring it had run out of cash.
In 2012 the WA Department of Education commenced the rollout of its standard operating environment version four to state schools, including a new, campus wide wi-fi network and the consolidation down to a single server. The project also included security, disaster recovery and BYOD device management capability upgrades.
The SOEv4 scheme was funded by the then-Labor government’s digital education revolution program.
However, by June 2014 it became apparent to the state that the one-off injection of Commonwealth money wouldn’t be enough to finish the SEOv4 upgrades to all WA schools.
Former education department boss John Leaf told parliamentarians that by the end of 2014, 454 of the state’s 770 schools would be upgraded, but after that funding would dry up and only newly established schools would be eligible for the new technology.
But Education Minister Peter Collier announced yesterday that his government had found $15.6 million to finish the rollout to the 218 schools still awaiting the 2012 upgrade suite.
He said 572 schools were currently using SOEv4.
“This multimillion dollar investment in technology is vital for life today, and will become even more essential for students into the future," Collier said.
"With schools turning to online content, there is increasing demand for and dependency on high-quality, high speed internet connections."
He also pledged $10.4 million to fit schools with bandwidth optimisation technology and $6.7 million to install new wireless access points on campuses.
The minister vowed to match schools’ own investments into new devices and other digital tools dollar-for-dollar up to $20 million, as the state prepares for national NAPLAN tests to go online by 2019.