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Improved bandwidth and digital connectivity for rural and regional schools in Victoria

The Victorian government in Australia plans to double the bandwidth and digital connectivity for 347 small rural and regionally based Victorian government schools.

Digital connectivity is essential for the students in these schools to receive a better digital education. It will enable these schools to have faster and more reliable access to online teaching and learning resources to support learning programs and an extended choice of subjects to choose from.

AU$16.4 million was allocated from the Victorian Budget 2017/18 for state-wide investment to   improve connectivity for rural schools and ensure that students and teachers outside of cities aren’t left behind. The Budget also includes AU$67.9 million for better IT support for schools and students across Victoria. This funding is expected to help upgrade information technology infrastructure across all government schools to provide reliable access to digital services in the classroom that are essential to teaching and learning.

Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino said, “By investing in digital connectivity for rural and regional schools we can ensure our teachers can offer the same standard of digital education as metropolitan schools. No student should miss out on learning the skills they will need for the jobs of the future.”

By renewing Wi-Fi in schools and implementing a new state-wide virtual conferencing system for more than half a million students in Victorian government schools, these initiatives complement the planned roll-out of ten new Tech Schools.

AU$128 million is being invested by the Victorian government to construct and establish 10 Tech Schools across the state, with further ongoing funding provided to support operation. The state-of-the-art Tech Schools will use leading-edge technology, discovery and innovation to deliver the advanced education and training to prepare Victorian school students for the transforming global economy.

These new learning centres will be established in waves, with the first wave open in 2017 and the second in 2018. The first one opened in the Yarra Ranges in April 2017. With advice from local industries, around 12,000 local students will find solutions to real-life problems using the latest technologies including robotics, virtual reality, 3-D printing and a simulation room.

These Tech Schools are part of the state government’s plan to boost performance in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. Targets include a 25% increase in the number of Year Nine students reaching the highest level of achievement in maths, and 33% more 15-year-olds reaching the highest levels in science.

These investments in digital education are part of the Labor Government's larger investment of almost $300 million in a range of school-based programs. In January this year, the Victorian Government launched a Digital Technologies curriculum to help students in schools hone their digital coding and critical thinking skills. The curriculum with its strong focus on (STEM) skills will be implemented in government and Catholic schools this year.

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