Trust gets com­put­ers into schools

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

A com­mu­nity group be­lieves it is un­fair that some chil­dren miss out on qual­ity ac­cess to com­put­ers in class­rooms, so it is in­stalling the hard­ware it­self for next to noth­ing.

Com­put­ers for Schools op­er­a­tions man­ager Gra­ham Mc­cready was at Ti­tahi Bay North School last week set­ting up a bank of 16 com­mer­cial spec com­put­ers – the school’s first com­puter lab – at a cost of $600 to the school.

Mr Mc­cready says that while chil­dren in bet­ter-off ar­eas some­times have a com­puter each, or at least a class of com­put­ers they can reg­u­larly use, pupils at lower-decile schools, who may not have com­put­ers at home, are not get­ting good ex­po­sure to com­put­ers at school ei­ther.

‘‘When they get to high school, they are re­quired to type at 30 words per minute to cope with the work there, but most classes [in low-decile schools] only have one or two com­put­ers a class­room.’’ So far the trust has in­stalled 900 free com­put­ers in schools, mainly in the poorer sub­urbs of Welling­ton and Auck­land. Com­put­ers for Schools is funded by do­na­tions, mostly from small busi­nesses.

The com­put­ers are bought at low cost from a com­pany paid to appropriately dis­pose of govern­ment depart­ment ma­chines.

The ma­chines have about a fiveyear life­span, and have usu­ally been used for about two or three years, but are of a higher grade than most com­put­ers bought for per­sonal use, Mr Mc­cready says.

The trust learned early on that if it pro­vided com­put­ers to dis­ad­van­taged homes, they were of­ten sold to Cash Con­vert­ers, so it con­cen­trates on schools in­stead, he says.

‘‘I met one boy at a school for gifted kids that had the soles fall­ing off his feet, so I put a com­puter and desk and new printer in his home, and when I came back to check, it was gone and he had a new bike.’’

An­other les­son learned was that pro­vid­ing the com­put­ers alone could bur­den a school with tech­ni­cians’ fees to have them in­stalled. Now, the trust in­stalls them, and ‘‘if they need 10, we give them 15, and tell them to put them aside if they’re not work­ing’’.

The trust is en­deav­our­ing to sat­u­rate the needs of low-decile Porirua schools.

Ti­tahi Bay North School is decile two. Prin­ci­pal Steve Cald­well says the trust’s work has been a huge bonus, as there is no spe­cific fund­ing from the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion for com­put­ers. ‘‘I think it’s awe­some. The ben­e­fit is we can now spend our money on soft­ware to use with the com­put­ers, and staff train­ing to use them more ef­fec­tively.

‘‘ Com­put­ers are vi­tal. They are what runs so­ci­ety now. You have to be able to have ac­cess to them and be able to ef­fec­tively use them.’’

So far the trust has in­stalled 55 com­put­ers at Ti­tahi Bay In­ter­me­di­ate, 10 at Mana Col­lege, 20 at St Pius X, and 28 at Ti­tahi Bay North. Nine in­stalled at Na­tone Park School had to be re­placed af­ter they were stolen two weeks ago.

Na­tone Park prin­ci­pal Kiri Smith says hav­ing the li­brary com­put­ers stolen, in what ap­peared to be a ‘‘to or­der’’ break-in, was dev­as­tat­ing, halt­ing the chil­dren’s re­search and book is­sues.

The trust’s work is right on the money, she says. ‘‘It’s ex­cel­lent. They are mak­ing sure that kids like ours, that other­wise wouldn’t have ac­cess to the tech­nol­ogy, can . . . and this is prob­a­bly the only place that they can do that. It’s vi­tal.’’

Photo: KARO­LINE TUCKEY/FAIRFAX NZ

IT man: Gra­ham Mc­cready, op­er­a­tions man­ager of the Com­put­ers for Schools trust, be­lieves com­put­ers make a huge dif­fer­ence to chil­dren’s learn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.