Closing the ‘digital divide’ for disadvantaged students

Joint Media Release
  • Minister for Education and Training
  • Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science
  • Leader of the House

Australian students from rural, remote, disadvantaged and Indigenous schools stand to benefit from a $6.9 million Turnbull Government initiative to improve digital technologies training for teachers.

Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne and Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham announced the additional funding would provide access to a unique University of Adelaide online course for teachers of some of the most vulnerable Australians and equip them with the skills and confidence needed to better embrace the use of new technologies.

Minister Pyne said today’s announcement is part of nearly $16 million to ensure vulnerable Australians can take advantage of the National Innovation and Science agenda.

“Today’s announcement under the National Innovation and Science Agenda goes to the Turnbull Government’s vision of creating a modern, dynamic 21st century economy for Australia,” Minister Pyne said.

“This $6.9 million commitment allows the University of Adelaide to expand a program that is having a real impact on the skills of teachers in disadvantaged and Indigenous schools to implement digital technologies in their everyday teaching.

“As a key pillar of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, this funding means teachers can take advantage of cutting-edge professional development sessions that the University has developed in collaboration with international partners including Google.”

Minister Birmingham said the expansion of the University of Adelaide course came on top of a $7.9 million commitment for schools in disadvantaged areas to access specialist ICT teachers and $1 million that would see computer science summer schools target Year 9 and 10 students from low socio-economic areas.

“The Turnbull Government is tackling the ‘digital divide’ to ensure that all Australians are exposed to the technologies of tomorrow, no matter where they live, no matter their background or the school they go to,” Minister Birmingham said.

“These initiatives are part of the Government’s Agenda to promote Massive Open Online Courses and encourage the use of the latest digital technologies to train teachers, particularly primary school teachers, to develop fundamental skills and knowledge directly relating to the new digital technologies curriculum.”

Minister Birmingham said the National Assessment Program Information and Communications Technology Literacy Report released at the end of last year found that only 52 per cent of year 10 students and 55 per cent of year six students met the proficient standard of ICT literacy.

“Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of the other social media platforms are like a second language for young people today.

“But the report highlighted that this thirst for social media does not necessarily translate into being competent in the practical use of information and communication technologies and that is something that initiatives like this aim to turn around.”

The Turnbull Government’s National Innovation and Science agenda will invest around $65 million to help all Australian students embrace the digital age, engage with science and maths in the early years and prepare for the jobs of the future.


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