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Labour’s education policy aims to reduce digital divide

07 Jul 14

A Labour Government will ensure that all students in Years 5-13 will have access to a portable computer in the classroom and their home, says David Cunliffe, Labour Leader.

“It is expected that by 2017 all children and young people will use personal digital devices for their learning,” he says. “To ensure no Kiwi kid is disadvantaged by their parents’ financial situation, Labour will provide an affordable way purchase a portable computer.”

Labour’s programme will be based on the Tāmaki Manaiakalani project. This successful initiative involves families paying instalments of $3.50 a week to purchase new and insured digital devices. Savings made through bulk purchasing may lower weekly costs even further, Labour says.

“We will also provide a $100 kick-start to reduce the costs of these vital learning tools,” Cunliffe says. “A $5 million hardship fund will be created to help the worst-off families who cannot afford the payments or fall into arrears.”

Cunliffe says that, according to census data, 15% of homes with school-aged children do not have internet access.

“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.”

Support will also be given to teachers, some of who will need assistance and mentoring to take full advantage of Labour’s policy. Labour has set aside $25 million for use in the 2016 and 2017 school years.

The physical condition of New Zealand schools is also addressed.

“The average age of our schools is 42 years old and fewer than half meet Education Ministry standards for modern learning," Cunliffe says.

“Labour will rebuild out-dated and worn-out buildings so every school is fit for the 21st Century by 2030.”

Cunliffe says that Labour is committed to a ‘modern, affordable and quality education system’.

“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.”

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