All schools across New Zealand are now able to connect to the Government-funded broadband network.
The announcement from Communications Minister Amy Adams comes just before Term One starts next week.
“With the new term starting next week, teachers, parents and students across the country will be delighted to hear that all schools can now connect to the information superhighway that is our Government-funded broadband network,” she says.
“We set ourselves a challenge in 2010 to give all state and state-integrated schools access to better broadband speeds by 2016. We've done this – on time and within budget,” Adams explains.
Around 782,000 students from almost 2500 schools have had fibre laid to their school gate under the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) programmes.
“Just in time for Term One, 97% of schools covering 99.7% of students are now able to connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband,” says Adams.
“The remaining three percent of schools are our most remote, and they too have greatly improved broadband delivered via wireless connections,” she says.
“This Government wants our schools to be among the most connected in the world and getting them connected to fast, reliable broadband is a key milestone in achieving this.
Adams says schools were given priority in the rollout and have been leaders in terms of choosing to connect to fast broadband and learning how to make the most of it.
The first sod was turned in the UFB initiative at Manaia View School in Whangarei in December 2010. The final school connected was Kaitieke School in Owhango, in the Ruapehu district.
“Since then, schools have actively sought Ultra-Fast Broadband connections. When combined with the thirst for professional development and skills for 21st century teaching and learning, schools are really maximising the use and potential this world-class technology brings,” Adams says.
According to a 2012 study, faster and more reliable broadband speeds will reduce the cost of course materials and save on field trips, Adams says. The result is a $3.6 billion consumer surplus over 20 years. There are likely to be 25 million fewer days of missed school due to sickness and truancy, by using remote learning applications and better collaboration between parents and teachers.
“The benefits of rolling out broadband to schools is wide-ranging, and part of the National-led Government's plan to deliver world-class education to our youngest New Zealanders,” says Adams.
“Some 90% of schools have also already connected to the Government's managed Network for Learning, which ensures schools have equitable access to safe, predictable and fast internet with uncapped data, as well as high quality teaching and learning resources,” she adds.