Victorian students will receive an additional 21,000 internet dongles after an agreement struck between the Victorian Government and Telstra.
This is in addition to the 5,000 SIM cards and 48,000 laptops and tablets already delivered to help meet the significant demand for internet access from Victorian students now they have moved to remote and flexible learning.
The move comes amid increased concerns about the ‘digital divide’ in Australia that is impacting on disadvantaged students at a time when many state jurisdictions are moving education online.
According to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2.5 million Australians are not online due to location, financial factors, a lack of digital literacy or the location in which they live.
In March, the NSW Government announced that thousands of disadvantaged NSW children who have been unable to learn online would be loaned laptops, tablets and modems.
In Victoria, priority is being given to senior secondary students, students in bushfire-affected areas, and families who cannot afford an internet connection at home.
Almost all Victorian students are learning from home during Term 2 to increase physical distancing and slow the spread of coronavirus.
Since the lockdown, the state’s schools have been using both online and offline education materials that can be completed by students at home. The recently launched Learning from Home website also provides online and offline resources for schools, students and families to help teach and learn remotely.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said the first tranche of SIM cards and dongles are currently being rolled out to schools.
“We’re making sure no child misses out on learning during this period – providing a device to every child that needs one as well as internet access to thousands of Victorian students,” Merlino said.
“This new agreement will mean a further 21,000 internet access devices will be available to support Victorian students while they learn from home”.