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Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

Rural and Remote Education Inquiry Briefing Paper

Information technology infrastructure

More than anybody else isolated kids are ready - because of their independence and responsibility - to take advantage of this technology and they can't. [Public meeting in Bourke NSW, 1 March 1999]


The national inquiry into rural and remote (school) education raises, among other things, the quality of educational services including technological support services. This paper sets out some information about the available and proposed information technology infrastructure for your information. Our aim is to invite your comments on the adequacy of the proposals and your recommendations for improving provision for rural and remote schools.

This paper is a work in progress which will be progressively developed and refined as further information is received by the Inquiry.

In this paper

  1. The legal framework
  2. Definitions
  3. Federal government policy
  4. What are the appropriate standards for information technology infrastructure in schools?
  5. What is the current IT infrastructure in Australian schools
  6. Problems and barriers in the provision of information technology infrastructure for rural and remote students

1. The legal framework

International law

The right of children in rural and remote schools to have appropriate access to information technology is covered by provisions in a number of international human rights treaties to which Australia is a signatory. They include provisions in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 28 of the Convention sets out the core right of all children to education. Article 29 provides that the child's education shall be directed, inter alia, to the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.

A number of provisions in the Convention have particular relevance to information technology. Article 17 provides that children have the right to information through the mass media. Under Article 13, children have the right to freedom of expression through any media of their choice.

Domestic law

Under Australia's domestic law, the most relevant piece of legislation is the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) which contains the Universal Service Obligation (USO). The USO is set out in Part 7 of the Act and represents the core community obligations of the telecommunications industry. It has important implications for the provision of technology in rural and remote schools. It is aimed at ensuring that all Australians, including those in rural and remote areas, have access to a standard telephone service, payphones and prescribed carriage services on an equitable basis, wherever they live. Telstra is the National Universal Service Provider and has responsibility for meeting the USO obligations.

2. Definitions

Bandwidth - The number of separate communications a communication channel can handle simultaneously. The greater the bandwidth the more messages can be handled at the same time.

Bps Bytes per second - the rate of transfer of data through a communications channel. A byte is a unit of data and the more bytes per second the quicker the transfer.

E-mail Electronic mail - sending messages to a specified address or addresses over an electronic communications network such as the Internet.

Information technology - Technology for reproducing and communicating information and for accepting electronic instructions. With the spread of digital technology, has come to cover not only computers and the Internet but also entertainment devices (such as TV and video), commercial devices (such as teller machines and Eftpos) and household appliances with in-built computerised controls (such as microwave ovens and air-conditioners). And perhaps most importantly, telecommunications services.

Internet - Many different computer networks around the world and the interconnections that allow them to communicate with one another.

Local Area Network - A network that allows communication among a specified number of computers rather than being open to the world at large. For example, a business may have a network that can be used only by computers within that business.

Software - The instructions that make a computer perform tasks. Often a distinction is made between the operating system which tells the parts of the computer how to work together, and an application or program (such as a word processor or spreadsheet) which the user controls to perform tasks.

World Wide Web - One of the entities through which people send and receive information on the Internet.

3. Federal government policy

In December 1998 the federal government released its policy statement A Strategic Framework for the Information Economy- Identifying Priorities for Action. It stated

This document reflects the Government's commitment to ensure that Australians, including those in regional and rural areas, enjoy the social and economic benefits offered by the growth of the information economy.

All Australians, wherever they live and work, and whatever their economic circumstances - need to be able to access the information economy at sufficient bandwidth and affordable cost; and need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to harness the information economy's benefits for employment and living standards.

Among the stated objectives of the government in this policy statement were to ensure that

Students leave Australian schools with the online skills and knowledge they need to benefit from employment and other online opportunities.

The Government clearly recognised the importance of technology infrastructure in the delivery of education for rural and remote Australians.

Online technologies, in themselves, will be an important tool in the cost effective provision of education and training. They offer the potential to transform the ways in which teaching and learning occur. For rural and remote Australia, online technologies offer a unique opportunity to address educational disadvantage stemming from the tyranny of distance. Not only do they facilitate communication between the student and the learning institution; they also enhance interaction between the students themselves, allowing them to share their ideas and work on group projects.

For schools, the challenge is to provide all young Australians with the general information technology skills and learning resources that will equip them to take advantage of future student training opportunities. We need to ensure an information-rich - information-poor' divide between schools does not develop. Teachers, especially those in rural and remote areas, will need access to professional development and training so that they can coach students in the online environment and use information technology as a teaching tool. High quality, locally produced, online content that is relevant to Australia's education system is essential.

The government has committed itself to working with the States and Territories and also the private sector to meet these challenges.

4. What are the appropriate standards for information technology infrastructure in schools?

The Australian Computer Society has set out a framework for the development of information technology in schools. This framework provides some useful guidance in defining appropriate standards of information technology in schools. The framework covers a number of specific areas and sets out 4 stages of development for each area, the 4th stage being the optimum.

IT equipment
Stage 4: All students and staff have access to computing services which suit their needs.

IT in the curriculum
Stage 4: The school curriculum is widened through the use of Information Technology and delivery becomes more student centred.

Stage 4: School networking uses wireless connections for workstations. Connections from outside the school are available.

External electronic communication
Stage 4: The school network is connected to the Internet for full service (E-mail, telnet, world-wide web etc.)

Accessing software
Stage 4: Software is made available to any workstation from school, local and global repositories.

Software acquisition
Stage 4: Software is collated against curriculum on a whole school basis.

IT management in schools
Stage 4: The school IT plan is informed by and fits into a systematic plan, which incorporates a sensitivity for the social impact of technology.

Some further guidance on the appropriate standards for technology infrastructure in schools is provided by the Education Network Australia (EdNA) Reference Committee in Towards An Australian Strategy for the Information Economy: A Position Paper. The Committee said that for schools, there needs to be a commitment by all Australian governments to

  • ensure that by the year 2001 all Australian schools will
  • have sufficient multimedia capable computers, peripheral equipment (such as printers, scanners) and local network arrangements to allow whole classes to participate collectively in online learning activities;


  • have access to communications facilities which will permit whole classes to connect to the Internet and participate in learning activities; and


  • have access to transactional facilities
  • remove price based impediments to schools outside metropolitan areas accessing the Internet.

5. What is the current IT infrastructure in Australian schools?

Commonwealth programs


The Commonwealth plays a role in the provision of technology infrastructure for schools. The Commonwealth Government's Investing for Growth program allocates funds for high quality surplus Commonwealth IT equipment to schools, including those in rural and remote areas.

"Networking the Nation" is another relevant Commonwealth program although it applies more broadly than just education. This program involves funding of $250m over 5 years from 1 July 1997. The program funds initiatives to address telecommunications needs in regional, rural and remote Australia. The aim of Networking the Nation is to support the economic and social development of regional, rural and remote Australia by funding projects which

  • enhance telecommunications infrastructure and services in regional, rural and remote areas;


  • increase access to, and promote use of, services available through telecommunications networks in regional, rural and remote areas; or


  • reduce disparities in access to such services and facilities between Australians in regional, rural and remote areas and those in urban areas.


Telstra, which is partly owned by the federal Government, also provides technology infrastructure for education including rural schools. This is part of Telstra's overall strategy of expanding its services to rural Australia. In May 1998 Telstra released a statement titled Telstra puts the Outback in Front. It stated

Telstra today unveiled its multi-million dollar satellite strategy which will extend the availability of telephony, data and Internet to potentially all country customers before the end of 1998 - affirming its commitment to rural Australia.

Importantly, Telstra's multi-million dollar investment is about 'putting the outback in front', boosting access to information, electronic commerce and key services like health and education.

. Telstra anticipates investing around $1 billion in country Australia in the current year . country customers can look forward to enjoying communications comparable with those enjoyed in major cities.

This strategy includes a program to help rural and remote customers access the Internet more cheaply. This program involves the installation of "Points of Presence" (POPs) in rural areas. There are approximately 100 POPs across Australia. Customers within the local call zone of the POP are able to connect with Telstra Big Pond (and hence the Internet) at the cost of a local call.

Telstra has developed a number of initiatives relevant to school education, some with a general focus and others with a specific rural focus. Telstra Rural and Remote Fact Sheet Educating Rural and Remote Australians (25/5/98) noted that Telstra has in excess of 50 projects around Australia aimed at developing the "virtual classroom". These projects involve approximately 12,000 educational facilities at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Many of these projects directly benefit rural and remote students.

Some specific initiatives include

Learn-IT partnerships
Learn-IT is a division of Telstra established for the purpose of supporting the education sector. It currently involves partnerships with 15 peak education bodies and this is likely to increase. Examples of partnerships that benefit rural and remote students include the Aboriginal Video Distance Education Program project at Kowanyama, a small settlement half-way up Cape York in Far North Queensland. It enables children to use the Internet and Conferlink Videoconferencing for education purposes.

Education Value-Add
Telstra supports schools to run Internet training sessions out of normal hours for their school communities, local businesses and the general public.

Education conferences
Over 5,200 educators from both rural and metropolitan areas have taken part in Telstra's education seminars. The seminars emphasise the benefits of technology for schools and demonstrate how it can best be utilised.

Reduced line rentals
In 1997 Telstra reduced line rentals for 12,000 education clients from $30 per month per line to $11.65 per month per line. This has resulted in savings of millions of dollars each year for schools.

Special awards program
Rural and remote students are able to display their multi-media skills through five education award programs run by Telstra throughout Australia

  • Early Childhood Association Award
  • Atom/Interact Award - for the tertiary student who completes the best multi-media project
  • Australian Export Award
  • Schools website competition
  • Education Foundation Best Government School Project.

Learning material
Telstra has developed a range of books, posters and other printed material on telecommunications and the information superhighway. The material can be obtained by calling Telstra FREECALL on 1800-633-033.

State and Territory programs

All States and Territories have established long term plans for the development of information and communications technology in schools. They include goals for achieving a required ratio of "computers" per student or school within a set period and providing access to the Internet for all schools. However, there are significant differences among States and Territories in their strategies, including the level of resources applied to them. They range from relatively minimal plans that provide basic ISDN quality connections to more substantial plans including quite comprehensive professional development programs for teachers. Some recent and current initiatives are outlined below. This information will be updated in consultation with State and Territory education departments.

New South Wales

The NSW Government's "Computers in Schools" program includes

  • connection of all NSW schools to the Internet in 1996
  • enhancing Internet services to schools through SchoolsNET which will connect all NSW Government schools to the Department of Education and Training's Wide Area Network
  • a professional development program for teachers called Technology in Learning and Teaching (TILT) established with a goal of 15,000 teachers completing it by June 1999
  • provision of 80,000 computers across all NSW schools and the achievement of a better than 1:11 computer:student ratio
  • funding to facilitate the use of this technology in schools through networking and technical support
  • 40 Technology Advisers based in different districts to support school technology planning and activities
  • curriculum documents for both primary and secondary schools supporting the integration of IT in school curriculum
  • support material to assist schools with
    • use of the Internet
    • development of a school Internet Access Policy
    • school publishing on the Internet
  • resource material for teachers and students on the Department of Education's schools world wide web site "Network for Education"


Victorian initiatives include

  • a plan to achieve a 1:5 computer to student ratio by June 2000 involving the provision of 61, 500 new computers over 3 years
  • $28.4 m over 4 years in subsidies for multi-media computers for students
  • $6.6 m over 2 years in subsidies to enhance teacher access to technology
  • notebook computers for approximately 36,700 principals and teachers over 5 years
  • over 2,000 surplus computers per annum for schools
  • a state wide area network including a broadband core with a minimum 64Kbps link to each school to facilitate the development of
    • Edumail, the electronic mail system available to 45,000 staff in schools and in the Education Department
    • Edulibrary, the electronic library of the Education Department's policies and publications
  • a learning technologies planning and implementation guide for schools
  • policies to integrate learning technology into all areas of school curriculum
  • Victorian Education Channel, a comprehensive online package of educational resources for students and the community
  • SOFWeb, the website for schools, containing information on the use of technology in education and learning
  • EduNet Internet Services, an Internet service for schools and TAFEs containing thousands of catalogued web sites with appropriate safeguards especially for primary students
  • Victorian Student Achievement Monitor, an interactive secondary school assessment program>
  • $56m allocated to professional development for teachers in the use of information technology
  • Statewide Licence Agreements under which Microsoft and several other major IT corporations provide a wide range of software free to schools.


Programs undertaken by Education Queensland include

  • Schooling 2001, a comprehensive 3 year (1997-2000) $83m program for the use of information technology in schools
  • Connect-Ed, a $53m program to connect all schools to a wide area network by ISDN or satellite
  • the School LANS project, a $40m program to provide every school with a basic LAN by 2001
  • the Schooling 2001 project allocated $30m in 1998-99 for
  • a target computer:student ratio of 1:7.5 by 2001
  • the "Connecting Teachers to the Future" program to provide teachers with laptops, Internet accounts and a two week vacation school
  • all minimum skill requirements for all teachers by 2001 supported by funding for staff development programs
  • a requirement for all schools to have 3-5 year plans for the management of learning technology
  • quality curriculum software and online resources.

South Australia

The South Australian Government allocated $85.6m over 5 years (1997-2001) for expanding the use of technology in schools. Key goals under the Government's DECStech 2001 Project include

  • a computer : student ratio of 1:5 by 2001
  • Local Area Networks for all schools, units and administration sites
  • broadband telecommunications services for all schools
  • a wide area network that will connect all schools, units and administration sites with the Department of Education, Training and Employment
  • professional development and training for all staff
  • funding of curriculum projects to develop teaching and learning methodologies based on new technology
  • technical support programs provided through District Offices and a central Customer Centre
  • a subsidised computer support scheme for schools
  • arrangements for schools to acquire curriculum and anti-virus software at discounted prices
  • cash grants to schools for the purchase of computer furniture, software and associated equipment.

Western Australia

The Education Department of Western Australia has a Technology 2000 strategy encompassing various programs to enhance learning through the use of technology. It includes

  • EdNet, a program to connect all schools in the State to the Department's network ($13.2m in 1996/97-1998/99)
  • A computers for students program supported by cash grants to schools so that by 2002 they will have a minimum ratio of 1:5 for secondary students and 1:10 for primary students ($112.96m in 1996/97-98/99)
  • satellite receivers for all country schools ($0.65m in 1996/97-1998/99)
  • funding for all schools to establish an Internet connection and access appropriate support for the use of the Internet in curricula ($7.5m in 1996/97-1998/99)
  • cash grants to schools for library automation ($1.65m in 1997/98-2000/01)
  • a requirement for all schools to develop a learning technologies plan before they can receive cash grants for computers
  • a range of school support strategies provided through Central and district office service groups.


The current Tasmanian Government, elected in 1998, indicating that it would develop a comprehensive strategy for IT in schools.

This paper will be updated with further information about the Tasmanian strategy.

Northern Territory

Following a major review of IT in Northern Territory schools, $0.75m was provided for the development of the Education 2000 Strategy. The Strategy has been completed and submitted to the Government for endorsement.

This paper will be updated with further information about the Northern Territroy strategy.

Australian Capital Territory

Strategies developed during the 1997-2000 period include

  • the establishment of a secure communications network between schools and onto the Internet
  • cash grants for schools to develop IT facilities and support
  • arrangements with IT corporations to provide hardware and software to schools
  • provision of pentiums to all permanent teachers
  • a professional development program for teachers based on localised coaching and training
  • school-based action plans on information technology in learning and teaching
  • funding for the integration of IT in curriculum design.

Other programs

Distance education

Distance education schools play a vital role in the delivery of education for rural and remote students. They are increasingly making use of information technology and telecommunications in the delivery of their programs. Distance education is provided mainly through State and Territory education departments.

The Tasmanian Open Learning Service delivers education through diverse means utilising print based items, videos, audio tapes, computer disks, E-mail and Internet. It also has programs to provide professional development for teachers in the use of information technology and to facilitate the implementation of technology infrastructure in schools. In 1997-98 $2.75m was allocated to distance education in Tasmania.

Northern Territory
Distance education initiatives operated by the Northern Territory Government include Schools of the Air ($2.848m in 1998-99), Northern Territory Open Education Centre ($3.057m), Open Learning Support ($0.641m) and Open Access Schools ($2.075m).

The Distance Education Centre is the main provider of distance education for Victorian students. The Centre delivers courses aimed at effectively meeting the educational needs of students whose circumstances prevent them from attending regular schools. Its courses include print based, audio and visual learning material as well as Internet facilities.

New South Wales
The New South Wales Government's 1998-99 budget allocation for rural education included funding for Distance Education Centre support through eight secondary and eleven primary centres.

Western Australia
Western Australia's School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) is based in Perth and includes five Schools of the Air. SIDE services students from pre-primary level to Year 12. It uses a wide range of communication systems including telephones, electronic mail, interactive multimedia and live television programs delivered via satellite technology.

South Australia
The Open Access College of South Australia includes the School of the Air located in Port Augusta. The core technologies it uses are print, video, audio, telephone conferencing and HF radio. In recent times increasing use has been made of desktop videoconferencing, Internet services and a range of other new multimedia products in the provision of distance education in South Australia.

Distance Education in Queensland is provided by the Government's Open Access Unit. Its programs include telecourses and teleconferences delivered through the Government's satellite network. In 1998-99 $27.492m was allocated to distance education in Queensland.

The Australian Capital Territory does not provide distance education.

Public libraries

Public libraries are also significant in the provision of technology infrastructure for rural and remote students and their families. Within the public library system there are a number of programs aimed at extending online library services to rural and remote areas. An example is NSW.Net, a project managed by the State Library of NSW, to connect NSW local councils in a network of high bandwidth connections to the Internet. It involves a set per annum cost for participating councils, thus ensuring that rural and remote communities are not disadvantaged. So far more than 60 councils have accepted the offer to connect to NSW.Net. A key objective of the program is to reduce the inequalities between rural and metropolitan NSW. The program is funded primarily through the NSW Government's allocation for public libraries, supplemented by a federal government grant through the Online Public Access Initiative. Similar programs have been developed in other States and Territories.

Community and private sector programs

Technology infrastructure has also benefited from various community and private sector initiatives, some of them developed in collaboration with government. Some examples:

Volunteers for Isolated Students' Education (VISE)
The VISE scheme has been operating for about 9 years. It involves sending volunteers to spend 6 weeks with families, working as home tutors for students and advisers to the parents. VISE is co-ordinating an "Internet to the Outback" project, funded by the federal Government's "Networking the Nation" program. Under the "Internet to the Outback" project, VISE volunteers show families how to get the most from Internet technology in partnership with the School of Distance Education in their area. The University of Ballarat provides the volunteers with training on the use of the Internet in distance education.

Internet Cafes
Until recently the development of Internet cafes was confined to cities. In January 1998 the world's first Outback Internet Cafe was opened at Blackall in Western Queensland. The cafe is situated in the foyer of the Blackall cinema. The cafe has been used by all age groups. Local schools have made regular bookings to use it. It has enabled teachers for the first time to set projects requiring Internet research. In its first 3 months it received approximately 3,000 user visits, in a community of 1,700 people. The establishment of the cafe involved co-operation between the local community and the Queensland Government (through the Department of Public Works and Housing, the Premier's Department, Office of Rural Communities and the Information Industries Branch, Department of Tourism, Small Business and Industry) and the private sector.

6. Problems and barriers in the provision of information technology infrastructure for rural and remote students

Despite the positive programs described above, access to appropriate technology infrastructure remains problematic for many rural and remote students in Australia. This was highlighted by the EdNA Reference Committee in Towards An Australian Strategy for the Information Economy: A Position Paper.

The lack of telecommunications infrastructure in Australia is a particular problem in regional and remote areas . The costs of providing and updating infrastructure and the associated operating costs are extremely high, particularly in rural and remote areas. The lack of Internet service providers (ISPs) within local areas of rural and remote parts of Australia make Internet access extremely costly in comparison to regions with local access to ISPs.

Schools in rural and remote areas tend not to have access to adequate communications facilities. The prices which such schools must pay for telecommunications services and Internet access are significantly higher than in metropolitan areas. The more information technology becomes a central part of the delivery of education and training in Australia, the more equity of access will become a central issue for the sector.

The findings of the EdNA Reference Committee have been echoed in the information and evidence received by the Inquiry. In Bourke NSW the Inquiry was told

If I can speak on behalf of distance education in this respect for a moment, the access to technology in terms of Internet and the use of Telstra lines for kids that are beyond Bourke is almost non-existent. There is a satellite trial being conducted from Broken Hill next term, which will give a very limited ability for kids to be in constant contact with their teachers. Nevertheless, until Telstra extends the ISDN lines beyond Tottenham and Bourke the kids that are on distance education will always be at a technological disadvantage. They have the computers, they have the hardware, they have the software, and they have the teachers. We have the infrastructure at school but we do not have the telephone lines to support it. And that is an enormous disadvantage to the distance education kids.

It is frustrating that the education infrastructure is there but the technology infrastructure isn't. If you are on a radiophone - they have trialled this in South Australia - they can run on 320 bytes per minute. It would take you about three days to download a sentence. [Public meeting, Bourke NSW, 1 March 1999]

Technology infrastructure is more than just software, hardware and telephone lines. It also requires people with the skills and expertise to support and maintain these systems. A number of submissions spoke about the lack of access to technological support for rural and remote schools. A primary school teacher from Broome WA told the Inquiry

Technology is a focus for our school but we are extremely disadvantaged. Even though we receive adequate funding there just does not exist the support service needed. An example, we are setting up a school computer network so that we might be able to provide Internet facilities into classrooms. Existing staff members have limited expertise. Contractors/computer providers can install the system but to maintain the system we will be floundering. We learn as we go. Metropolitan schools have a number of support people they can use (Ed dept and private companies), all of whom are keen to offer competitive quotes for such service. [Submission No. 22]

In a submission to the Inquiry, a secondary school teacher from Dubbo NSW described the sense of frustration arising from inability to deal promptly with equipment breakdowns.

Nothing is more frustrating than having equipment breakdown etc and not being able to get it fixed in an acceptable amount of time or without exorbitant cost. The access programme relies on technology, however, the company from Sydney that installed it has no agent in our area. Consequently when you phone them they give you instructions over the phone and if not successful, we send it to Sydney. Unfortunately when it comes back with a clean bill of health the problems may reoccur. New technology does not always behave when introduced to an older Telstra network.

We are as I write this having such a problem with our conferencing equipment. It has been 3 weeks and the problem is yet to be solved. I have frustrated staff and students because communication with the other schools is between unreliable and non-existent depending on the day.

The down time for student learning because of technical breakdown is significant. The time wasted by teaching staff trying to fix problems over the phone etc can also be significant. [Submission No. 11]

Similar frustrations were expressed at public meetings.

We . have had some reliability problems with software and things like that. It is getting better but it takes an inordinate amount of time to rectify. We have had to build in an allowance of non-teaching [for one staff member] for him to maintain the system. [Bourke NSW, 1 March 1999]

Every time there is a power surge our main file server in the library goes down. In the last week there was one day where we had four. In some cases it means a complete recovery of the system. This is a big problem. [Brewarrina NSW, 2 March 1999]

These problems do not relate only to the infrastructure located within schools. They also affect students engaged in distance education who need access to appropriate technology in their homes. For these students and their families, costs can be extremely prohibitive. The Open Access College in South Australia told the Inquiry

Students enrolled in distance education need access to one workstation per family with a modem and printer and individual software licences. This is much more expensive to set up than the concept of a computer room or individual computers on a Local Area Network (LAN) in a school environment. The Federal Government needs to consider some sort of subsidy scheme or grant to provide access to this technology for remote and isolated families, similar to the Homestead Video Scheme of the 1970s when these families had no access to television. [Submission No. 23]

Similarly, lack of access to public libraries or inadequate facilities within libraries adversely affect rural students and their communities.

[R]egional and rural library users remain deprived of the range of library access points, resources, staffing, services, technology and Internet connectivity common in urban areas. The three most critical deficiencies are lack of access points, far too few professional and paraprofessional staff, and slow progress in Internet provision and training for the community. In particular, there has been a failure in most parts of rural Australia to examine the merits of school housed public libraries for smaller communities. [Presentation by Peter Munn & Anna Handley from the University of South Australia Library, at 'Healthy Communities for the Bush', 3rd National Conference for Regional Australia, Broken Hill November 1998.]

The inquiry has also heard some positive stories about technological infrastructure in particular schools and communities. At one meeting with a group of secondary students several of them spoke about the abundance of computers as a result of recent purchases by the school. They also indicated that Internet access was generally very reliable. [Meeting with secondary students in Bourke NSW, 1 March 1999]

It is also clear to the Inquiry that some very positive advances have been made in particular areas, despite resource limitations and other barriers, mostly due to the vision and commitment of the individuals and organisations involved.

At the moment in South Australia the infrastructure for technology in rural and remote areas is very poor. The college has successfully trialled the use of the Internet for conferencing with distance education students. Parents and teachers have indicated that using technology has motivated students, has improved the interaction between the teacher and the student and has reduced the isolation as students can communicate through e-mail. [Submission No. 23]

Some submissions to the Inquiry suggested strategies for addressing the inadequacy of technology infrastructure for rural and remote students. Grahame and Linda Code from Aberfeldy in Victoria told the Inquiry

Capital and financial assistance should be given to enable modern communication equipment, including computers, fax and dedicated telephone lines for this to be available for children in rural and remote areas. Ongoing financial help also should be considered, to keep the equipment up to date with modern technology. [Submission No.2]

The Executive Officer of St Patrick's School in Camperdown Victoria proposed a number of solutions for enhancing technological support for rural and remote students.

Legislate for the free use of telecommunications for schools, decentralise specialist teachers and advisers, prioritise schools according to their remoteness so that they can have first access to on-line programs, fund cabling, technological upgrades and computer laboratories for all schools. [Submission No. 31]


Last updated 2 December 2001.