My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is for the minister to allow every Victorian school student who has received a laptop or tablet from the state government to learn from home to keep them. I commend the government for providing over 50 000 tablets and laptops to students, as well as internet dongles, although the minister has made clear that this is a loan. This was essential to ensuring disadvantaged students without access to a computer and internet could learn from home. However, what this pandemic has exposed that is really concerning is that so many Victorian school students were already without access to laptops, devices and/or the internet at home. Many schools sourced laptops and devices for their students through other means, meaning that the number of students without access is actually much, much higher.
Being able to work on a computer or access the internet at home is essential for any school student, regardless of whether they are learning from home or at school. Any student without this is automatically at a disadvantage, and no student can properly participate in their schooling and their learning without it. There has been evidence heard that in some instances access to a computer and internet at home has significantly increased attendance amongst school refusers, and multiple witnesses at the recent Public Accounts and Estimates Committee hearings recommended that the government permit students to keep laptops and devices that they have been provided with.
Whilst I accept that the minister has stated that he is not asking students to return their devices anytime soon should they be required to learn from home again, he made it very clear that they are on loan. It is absolutely absurd to think that after this pandemic the government would require students to give them back, so I would urge the minister to allow students to permanently keep the laptop or tablet and ensure from now all Victorian school students have access to a device or the internet at home.