South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has pledged high speed broadband upgrades for public schools and preschools across the state.
The announcement was made earlier this week at the site of Adelaide Botanic High, which is set to open early next year and will boast a gigabit internet connection.
“Today’s announcement is yet another example of how the Labor Government is preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow, with digital learning, online research and collaboration the hallmarks of many future careers,” said Premier Weatherill.
While not all schools will have internet as zippy as Adelaide Botanic High will, the upgrade will be significant – on average.
According to the Department of Education, average speeds will increase from an estimated “10.95Mbs before the upgrades to 97.1Mbs after the upgrades” under the statewide program.
These speeds have not been noted correctly as “Mbs” is not a valid unit of measurement. If the Department meant MB/s (megabytes per second), 10.96 MB/s is 87.6 Mbps and 97.1 MB/s is 776.8 Mbps. It’s more likely it meant megabits per second (Mbps), i.e. 10.95 Mbps and 97.1 Mbps.
The upgrades, which will occur over the next two years, will also involve additional resources for ensuring safety protocols are enforced in order to prevent data breaches. Those using school connections will also be blocked from accessing “unsanctioned” websites.
900 of South Australia’s public schools and preschools will have internet connection upgrades. As well as the benefit to students, the program is expected to stimulate investment and generate jobs during the roll- out phase.
“Having a faster internet speed has so many advantages and with styles of learning, teaching and careers rapidly changing – it is absolutely critical that our students are equipped with the best resources and technology to help them to excel,” said Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close.
It looks like many students will be using the schools’ accelerated internet connections on shiny new laptops too. Also announced this week was a $70 million investment over five years under the Laptops for Students program, which will see all year 10, 11 and 12 public school students having personal laptops by 2021.
In some of the remotest parts of South Australia, selected schools are already in the midst of broadband upgrades under another initiative. Last year, the State Government announced $800,000 in upgrades for 9 Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands schools; which were to be moved from existing technologies onto a fibre optic broadband system. Those upgrades should be completed by June this year.