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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 86 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Sadly, because we have only had testing since then, when we start testing some of our students, say at Year 9 level, we are seeing that some of the results are not as good as they are now for kids going into Year 5 who have benefit from the tests and the action taken because they did not have the benefit of that when they were in primary school. That is a benchmark that I think we are very proud of.

Last year we allocated some $10 million over and above what we normally do for classrooms in additional resources for ESL and learner assistance programs to assist kids who were not quite making those standards. Those are all benchmarks that are indicators that we as a government are very proud of.

Another investment is information technology. We have gone from some 3,300 computers in 1997 to 8,215 in 1999. We instituted a program involving about $20 million to ensure that our students had the best information technology that could be available to assist them with their education. Part and parcel of that was Pentium computers for each teacher. The student to computer ratio is now something like 1:4.8-one computer between about 4.8 students. Last year we trialled IT competencies for Year 10. This year we will be giving out certificates and we want to see 95 per cent of our students competent in IT. That is not just our students being able to use a computer; that is being able to use programs and do some of the more advanced stuff with a computer for educational benefit. Those students will be able to have a document that they can keep with them and show to anyone to demonstrate what they have achieved.

We are very committed to supporting our teachers by enhancing quality teaching. We all agree, I think, that the quality of teaching practice is dependent upon the professionalism of our students, and we are very committed to our high-quality teachers in our government sector. That is why the last certified enterprise agreement entered into set guidelines for developing a plan for the professional development of all teachers which will ensure that our teachers also have pathways to continue and enhance and develop their skills. The agreement also sets out guidelines for confidential, professional appraisal processes that will ensure that we have the best system for our schools.

If the Labor Party is committed to education, Mr Deputy Speaker, why did they vote against the budget last year? Why did they vote against an 11.5 per cent increase package for teachers plus extra money for professional development and extra incentive payments, a wonderful proposal which was achieved with a minimum of fuss-two hours of industrial disruption as opposed to 21 or 22 days disruption in New South Wales? Why did they vote against that measure in the budget if they have the dedication to education that they say they do?

Where is Mr Berry now? He is not even in the Assembly to take part in this important debate. I will mention briefly one more area, information technology. Some three or four years ago there were some 700 students doing vocational training in our schools. That number has increased to about 2,300 now. They will achieve a vocational qualification in at least one area. We have introduced other things too. People can study at senior secondary college and also do an apprenticeship at the same time. They get the benefit of their training and can go on to CIT and places like that. We realise that some 60 per cent of our students do not go on to university.

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