CONCERNS have been raised about maintenance costs on laptops provided for school students through the Federal Government’s Digital Education Revolution.
While Year 9 students are preparing to receive their new laptops, some Northern Rivers schools have raised the issue of maintenance costs as the computers start to age and warranties lapse.
Alstonville High School Principal David Silcock said while under warranty the laptops are simply replaced.
“If there is a problem with the laptop that is under warranty and has been accidentally damaged, or not caused by ‘non contributory negligence’ then the machines are covered,” he said.
“Difficulties occur when damage happens that is not malicious, but not covered by warranty either.”
Mr Silcock gave an example where students sometimes picked up the laptop by the screen which would leave a black line across it where the pressure of the student’s thumb would damage the pixels.
As executive of the NSW Secondary Principals Council, Mr Silcock said the issue of maintenance costs out of warranty was raised at a recent training day.
“This prompted us to run workshops with members of the DER team from the Department of Education to highlight future issues,” he said.
“While we are administering Commonwealth funds, the states are running it so now they are aware of what problems we may face.”
Byron Bay High School principal Peter Giblin said they have had a few small warranty claims.
“If a laptop breaks there is a pool of them that can be used to replace the damaged one,” he said.
“If a student damages a laptop then they or their family are responsible to pay for it.
“It’s a very grey area as to how this will happen.”
Mr Giblin said that some negotiation with families may be needed. Department of Education spokesman Sven Wright said the policy for lending out the laptops to students was covered on their website, which states: “Laptops that are damaged or lost by neglect, abuse or malicious act, may require reimbursement.
“The Principal will determine whether replacement is appropriate and/or whether or not the student is responsible for repair or replacement costs.”
66,000 laptops rolled out to Year 9 in 2009.
By mid-2010 130,000 laptops will be in NSW schools.
Students will receive the Lenovo ThinkPad Mini 10 netbook computers.