THE internet speed of state schools across Victoria will be doubled, as part of a suite of state government initiatives to address the disparity between regional and metropolitan schools.
The move, which aims to better support country students, will be part of an initial $82.8 million funding package that supports recommendations from the Expert Advisory Panel into Rural and Regional Students.
The package will also provide $45.2 million to address teacher supply issues outside of Melbourne, by attracting teachers and school leaders to state schools in rural and regional Victoria.
More than $37 million will go to a range of initiatives including:
* $13.2 million to enable rural and regional students to attend VCE revision lectures in Melbourne, saving students up to $1000 on registration, travel and accommodation costs;
* $7.8 million to expand professional development for teachers and leaders in rural and regional areas;
* $5.1 million to support rural and regional schools to work in clusters to strengthen curriculum delivery;
* $3.7 million for outreach and virtual programs - such as the John Monash Science School Rural Exchange Program - for regional and rural schools;
* $3.7 million to abolish enrolment fees for Virtual School Victoria for all students, saving around 4400 parents $160 for the cost of their children accessing virtual learning;
* $2.5 million to increase access to mentoring, role models and information about post-school pathways; and
* $1.4 million for Victoria's Tech Schools to host and offer STEM programs for regional and rural students.
The government will also spend $8.9 million in the STEM Catalyst initiative to provide teachers in regional in rural areas with further training in mathematics and science, up to $2.1 million for employment-based programs to attract high-achieving graduates into the teaching profession in rural and regional areas and $59.9 million to double internet speeds at government schools across Victoria.
Families experiencing financial hardship will be allocated an extra $22.1 million for the Affordable School Uniforms Program, $1.3 million for the Glasses for Kids Program, and $160.9 million for a camps, sports and excursions fund.
The announcement coincided with the state government's promise to give Wellington Shire's 26 state schools more than $2.3 million in state government maintenance funding.
The boost is the shire's slice of $515 million handed out statewide, and will ensure existing buildings at more than 1500 state schools are safe, modern and properly maintained.
Eastern Victoria MLC Jane Garrett said the money would allow schools to do essential works such as painting, replacing carpet and windows, landscaping, tree inspections and maintenance of infrastructure like septic systems and water services.
The allocation will build on the state government's $5.6 billion investment in new and upgraded schools, which more than doubles funding for maintenance at Victoria's state schools over the next two financial years, with more than $300 million to be invested in 2019/20 and $290 million in 2020/21.