Illawarra students will share in a $23 million statewide digital learning package which will improve access to iPads, laptops, programmable robots, virtual reality viewers and more.
The funding was announced on Monday by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian at the launch of Education Week – which for the first time took place simultaneously at Kiama and Parramatta public schools.
The school halls were turned into TV studios for the morning launch, which was live streamed on YouTube to government schools across the state.
Parliamentary secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward said the innovative launch suited the theme of this year’s Education Week of ‘Today’s schools – creating tomorrow’s world’.
“The launch was a great example of how technology is linking schools, and giving students the opportunity to tackle the problems of tomorrow,” Mr Ward said. “We live in a digital age so our students need to be successful and skilled digital natives.”
Mr Ward said the funding for the STEMShare Community program would include 660 technology kits for schools as well as teacher training and online tools and would be rolled out from term four.
“Teachers today are having to prepare children for jobs that don’t even exist yet,” he said. “This funding will provide students with improved access to robotics, 3D printing, coding, film-making and virtual and augmented reality.”
Ms Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes were at Parramatta public for the launch of the annual awareness week, which will kickstart a week of celebrations in public schools across the state.
Ms Berejiklian said research estimated that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations required STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) knowledge and experience.
“Mathematical and scientific literacy is a passport to the future and these school kits will unlock student creativity and show them how these disciplines can be applied to real-world learning,” she said.
Mr Stokes added: “Our students will need to think critically, solve problems creatively, work in teams, communicate clearly in a range of media, and continue to learn to engage with new and ever-evolving technologies.”
Mr Ward praised Kiama Public principal Kieren Corbyn for co-ordinating the Kiama launch – which was compered by students Chloe Wallace and Alexia McEvoy and featured local performers.
“It was simulcast from both schools – so we had presentations and speeches at both sites,” Mr Ward said. “Kiama Public did us proud – the students were brilliant, the backdrop was outstanding and the management by the school team is to be congratulated.”