Sixteen small rural and regional schools around Ballarat to enjoy improved internet access

BEING booted offline or struggling to connect in the first place are common tech headaches for children at many small rural and regional schools.

For pupils and staff at 16 local primary schools those tech traumas should hopefully ease soon.

A $16.4 million state government program, announced in this month’s budget, will double internet bandwidth to 347 schools as part of digital connectivity upgrades to ensure equal access to technology for all students.

Napoleons Primary School is one of 16 local schools who will receive the upgrade.

“Internet can be slow and we have black spots around the school that don’t always get coverage or the speed we need,” said acting principal Matthew Reyntjes.

Napoleons Primary School pupils Lucy, Seth, Mason and April look forward to the school's internet bandwidth being doubled. Picture: Kate Healy

Napoleons Primary School pupils Lucy, Seth, Mason and April look forward to the school's internet bandwidth being doubled. Picture: Kate Healy

“When several classes try to get online at once it gets throttled and slow, and in some cases one student connects and another drops off. 

“We get kids dropping off in the middle of a task. This is a big concern, especially with online assessments and the move to NAPLAN online,” he said.

Magpie Primary School principal Peter Clifton welcomed the boost but said it fell far short of the 100MBS promised to schools many years ago.

“For me the future of education says every student should be sitting at their desk with a novel, which could be electronic, with a pencil case and hard copy book but beside them should be a laptop and tablet that should be open and responsive.

“In a learning situation you want to the technology to respond right now.

“The kids will come and say it won’t work, and we look around the school and say the big kids are running their laptops at the moment and everything slows down.”

Almost 350 small rural and regionally-based Victorian government schools will receive the upgrade.

“We are doubling the bandwidth provision to 347 small rural and regional schools across Victoria to make sure all students can access a first-rate digital education regardless of where they live,” said education minister James Merlino.

“No student should miss out on learning the skills they will need for the jobs of the future.”