Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader and Education spokesperson
With most Tasmanian students learning from home for the foreseeable future, it’s vital the government supports families without computer or internet access by providing laptops and WiFi for the duration of COVID-19.
New South Wales and Victoria have both announced they will loan students laptops and either WiFi modems or internet dongles. Tasmania should do the same to ensure no student is left behind.
We acknowledge the Department of Education has already provided some support for students without computer or internet access, and we know the Minister is working to resolve challenges.
The current arrangements, however, will still mean there is a different learning experience, and potential divide, for students from low-income families.
Many schools already own laptops. The State Government could tap in to these existing resources to meet most of what’s needed.
Purchasing items such as dongles is a small price to pay for ensuring all Tasmanian students can connect with their teachers and peers in the online learning environment.
Without knowing how long coronavirus will continue, it’s critical the systems we put in place now reflect the key guiding principle of our public education system - equal opportunity for all.
Parents’ financial circumstances should not influence educational outcomes for their children. We urge the government to make sure all Tasmanian students are equally able to fully participate in online learning.