Schools cannot function without IT support, particularly when they are situated in a remote area, IE Journalist Sue Osborne writes.
Queensland ICT Professional Officer (Technical Support) Khovy Inthavong (pictured above) covers a huge geographic area providing support to schools in the north western region of Townsville Catholic Education Office. As well as providing support to schools and early learning centres, Khovy supports the Good Shepherd Parish in Mt Isa.
He would drive on average 500km a week servicing his schedule, visiting four schools as well as the parish and early learning centres. Add another 1000km when his schedule requires a visit to Winton.
Khovy’s association with education began early in his career. In 2003 he migrated to Australia from New Zealand and began work as a youth and disability worker, mainly with disengaged students in a flexible learning centre.
He started as a technician at Good Shepherd Catholic College, Mt Isa in 2007, moving into his current itinerant role with the education office in 2012.
With the closest town to Mt Isa being Townsville, some 1000km away, IT connections are crucial.
A few years ago, Townsville Catholic Education introduced Google Suite to the diocese. This paved the way for staff and students to use cloud applications.
“Although this was quite a dramatic change and a challenge, it has enabled the staff to share documents more easily and collaborate more,” Khovy said.
“I’ve had teachers who have left the diocese contact me and say they wish they still had access to Google Suite. That is quite pleasing for me.”
Khovy said he gets a lot of satisfaction from making things run smoothly.
“Basically the school officer, the IT technician, is the oil that makes the machine work.
“Without us the staff, teachers and leadership team could not function effectively and it is rewarding to see the trickle-down effect of that, from the teachers to the students.
“Even though we are in a regional area we give our staff and students access to the best technology available.
“There is no disadvantage to them being in a remote area, as far as the technology goes.”
Khovy also enjoys being asked to assist in IT lessons. “Every day is different, and that keeps you on your toes and is rewarding.”
Working in a remote area can provide challenges when it comes to the amount of time required to get trades support or equipment and budgetary constraints, and it is not unusual for Khovy to receive calls on weekends and after hours when an urgent matter needs attention.
Khovy said the need for IT support in schools can only grow and there must be recognition and protections built in for them industrially.
“Working in a remote area helps build your resilience,” Khovy said.