Schools will set their own prices on free government-supplied laptops, according to the Department of Education, after it was revealed that a South Australian public school was charging hundreds of dollars to allow students to take computers home on weekends.
This week shadow education minister Christopher Pyne said the school was charging parents up to $365 a year for the laptops, which are being issued to year 9 to 12 students under the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion Digital Education Revolution. The roll out is expected to be completed by 2012.
“At least one South Australian public school is asking parents for $365 a year to allow their students access to the laptops at home and on weekends. Public school students in New South Wales are able to take their laptops home without any additional cost,” Pyne said in a written statement.
“Other schools are urging parents to take advantage of ‘Digital Education Revolution pricing’ and purchase a laptop outright.”
However, schools are within their rights to charge students for taking laptops home. The Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations states on its website that “whether students are allowed to take laptops home is at the discretion of the individual school”.
Pyne said the South Australian government appeared to be “selling computers onto parents or encouraging parents to purchase the laptop from a reseller in an attempt to meet the Federal Government’s targets”.