A Labour Government will modernise New Zealand’s schools and close the digital divide by ensuring all students in Years 5-13 have access to a portable computer in the classroom and their home, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.
“The world has changed but our schools haven’t.
“The average age of our schools is 42 years old and fewer than half meet Education Ministry standards for modern learning. Labour will rebuild out-dated and worn-out buildings so every school is fit for the 21stCentury by 2030.
“It is expected that by 2017 all children and young people will use personal digital devices for their learning. To ensure no Kiwi kid is disadvantaged by their parents’ financial situation, Labour will provide an affordable way purchase a portable computer.
“Our programme will be based on the successful Manaiakalani project in Tāmaki, in which families pay instalments of $3.50 a week for new and insured digital devices they get to keep. Labour anticipates a lower weekly cost because of savings made through bulk purchasing. We will also provide a $100 kick-start to reduce the costs of these vital learning tools. A $5 million hardship fund will be created to help the worst-off families who cannot afford the payments or fall into arrears.
“Census data shows 62,000 or 15 per cent of homes with school-aged children do not have access to the internet. To address this, Labour will put in place infrastructure so these students can access the internet for free from home. One way to do this may be via ‘wide area networks’ that extend schools’ internet access to their surrounding communities.
“While many teachers are already well-prepared for the use of digital devices in the classroom, others will need assistance and mentoring to take full advantage of this change. Labour will provide $25 million to enable them to do so in the 2016 and 2017 school years.
“The digital divide is creating two classes of students which will have a long-term and dire impact on low income communities. Labour has always been at the forefront of driving positive change in our education system. Modernisation in other nations has begun to outpace us and New Zealand cannot afford to be left behind.
“Labour is committed to a modern, affordable and quality public education system. A Labour Government will revolutionise not only schools but the way our kids learn,” David Cunliffe says.