Saffin gets with the program
By MARY MANN
THERE was laughing around the table yesterday as Labor Member-elect for Page, Janelle Saffin, talked computers with the leaders of Ballina's Southern Cross K-12 School and Distance Education Centre.
But the nature of the conversation was serious.
P&C president Craig Copeland invited Ms Saffin to the school to discuss Kevin Rudd's $1 billion plan to provide every Year 9 to 12 school student with computer access.
The visit came after the Prime Minister-elect announced he wanted all Members-elect to visit two schools before he met with them in Canberra tomorrow.
"More computers will be a good thing, but there are issues around how we can make it work," Mr Copeland said.
"We need to work out the nitty-gritty details, like power, security, IT support and broadband access.
"And I want to make sure the Distance Education students, many of whom live in remote areas, don't miss out."
At the moment, the East Ballina school has about 170 computers for about 900 students; a ratio of about one computer for every seven kids.
Ms Saffin said she realised computers do not just stand-alone.
"You need technical support, too, and I'm well aware of that," she said.
"This is not as straight forward as 'bring a computer here and that's it', we have to work all of this out."
Ms Saffin invited the school to make a written submission to her, detailing any issues and ideas they had regarding the computer plan.
David Cox, deputy principal in charge of distance education, said despite the issues the huge benefits of having more computers for students were obvious.
"Having raised all these issues, we don't want you to now withdraw the offer," he joked.
Principal John Baker said public schools around the country would be looking forward to getting more computers in their classrooms.
"A plan on how we can make this a reality is critical," he said. "The mission now is how we can make it most effective and efficient."