The use of laptops and tablets in classroom is causing inequality in New Zealand schools, according to Labour's education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.
Hipkins says a Queenstown school was ‘forced' to use a donation from an overseas investor in order to provide students with digital devices.
According to reports, the sale of sensitive land near Queenstown was approved by the Overseas Investment Office after the buyers agreed to donate $100,000 to Wakatipu High School for iPads and laptops.'
The sale was for a 19-hectare piece of land in Arrowtown at a price tag of $2.7 million. The condition for approval was that the buyers donate $100,000 to the decile 10 school.
“If parents at a decile 10 school can't afford digital devices for their kids, how can those at other schools be expected to?,” Hipkins says.
According to Hipkins, the school used the donation after identifying up to 30% of its students' parents would need assistance to purchase digital devices. The school used $30,000 of the donation to train its teachers in e-learning.
“The Government was advised by its own taskforce in 2014 that it needed to set up an equity fund to ensure Bring Your Own Device to school policies don't cause low income children to fall behind,” Hipkins says.
“However National simply ignored the recommendation and has continued to turn a blind eye to the growing digital divide,” he explains.
“School kids shouldn't have to rely on overseas investors to ensure they get their fair shot at education,” Hipkins says.
“The law guarantees every Kiwi kid a free schooling, and that's what the Government has a responsibility to fund.
“The Government is completely out of touch with the pressure families are under when it comes to their kids' schooling,” he adds. “Even middle income families are feeling the squeeze because National has under-funded education.
TechDay has contacted the office of the Minister of Education for comment.