Our digital learning infrastructure program in Papua New Guinea has always been targeted at the primary school level. This ensures that a generation of students within each community will have access to digital learning tools. In 2019, our board decided to diversify our programs to complement the long-term effects of digital learning infrastructure with work which would have an immediate impact on individuals at later stages of their educational journeys. And so the Digital Leaders Program was born.
Funded by Ergon Energy & Energex, the 2020 edition of the Digital Leaders Program saw thirty ambitious high school students be granted a personal laptop for the benefit of their studies. Further, our Digital Leaders will be given exciting professional development opportunities. These students came from nineteen schools as far afield as the Thursday Island, Mackay and Charters Towers.
Having been piloted across North Queensland in 2020, we envisage the Digital Leaders Program being a highly competitive annual international program with nominations coming from all corners of the developing world. We have no doubt that connecting talented leaders in a global network will facilitate incredible possibilities for social entrepreneurship and collaboration.
The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic is impacting everybody on the planet, including high school students as remote learning is set to be deployed across the Australian education industry.
Thanks to the generous support of Arid 2 Oasis Traffic Solutions and Energy Queensland, we are inviting high school students across northern Queensland who do not own a personal learning device (i.e laptop, desktop) to apply through our Remote Learning Program.
Within a fortnight, we received over 1,250 applications for a digital device from students at 45 schools across North and Far North Queensland from cities such as Townsville and Cairns to remote communities in the Torres Strait Islands and the Gulf Country.
In Round 1 of the program, we distributed 50 digital devices to high school students in Townsville and Cairns. Students from Townsville State High School, Pimlico State High School, Woree State High School, Gordonvale State High School, Tec NQ and elsewhere were empowered to continue learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
Learning never stops, and neither will we. There are more rounds to come.