According to Emma Macdonald in the Canberra Times today, the Federal government is now spending more than $2 billion dollars to provide every Year 9-12 student in Australia with a computer.
Laptops which get vandalized, lost, stolen, and will mostly be used for? Learning???? Yet we know that school libraries which are well stocked and staffed make a significant difference to student learning and literacy. (See our Research pages.) We don’t know that computers have the same impact on literacy and learning!
How badly off are some of our government school libraries? Surveys of school libraries in the NT indicated last year that most schools had less than $1000 a year to spend. (No wonder the ABC has pitched in to help buy books for indigenous kids.)
Let’s see. Average price of a book c. $30. Government schools (you know, the ones which educate two thirds of the nation’s students, but only get one third of the federal funds.) 6,853. How many books might that money provide for every government school, especially the ones who now have library budgets of $1000 to $5000 per year. Check my maths. $291,843 per government school or 9728 books each!!! That can’t be right, can it?
Almost 10,000 new books to share, or one laptop not to share. We know what Phillip Pullman would say! He and other UK authors have let Chesterfield school know “that it will become a ‘byword for philistinism and ignorance’ if it goes ahead with the closure of its library” as it becomes a ‘virtual learning environment’.
Let your federal member know what you think. Libraries or laptops??