Scheme funding reinstated
Computers-in-homes on more solid ground
The future of the Computers-InHomes scheme is more assured after a Ministry of Education announcement that reversed a budget cut.
Government funding for the scheme was cut in the Budget in May, but the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, the Associate Minister, Nikki Kaye, and the Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector, Jo Goodhew, announced in Porirua last Tuesday that the funding would be reinstated.
Ms Parata said $1.6 million had been moved from the Vote Education budget to the Department of Internal Affairs for enabling digital literacy.
‘‘These connections are powerful in boosting the educational achievement of our children,’’ Ms Parata said.
Computers-In-Homes began as a pilot project in 2000, run by the 2020 Communications Trust.
Ms Kaye said the programme was particularly aimed at families and students from low- income households so they could have the best possible education and learn the skills necessary to gain a job.
‘‘ Research shows that when parents acquire these skills, they can better support their children’s learning.’’
The funding would provide com- puters for another 1500 families and their communities.
The Government recognised the importance of digital literacy and had invested $1.35 billion to provide ultra-fast broadband for 75 per cent of New Zealand by the end of 2019, Ms Kaye said.
Locally the scheme is delivered by the charitable trust e-learning Porirua.
Trust chairman Graham Kelly, a former MP for Mana, said this year’s budget cut had meant the 20 Computers- In- Homes trusts around New Zealand in largely low-income areas like the east coast, Northland and the West Coast were faced with closing.
It cost the e- learning trust $200,000 each year to keep going, or $3000 for each family.
Each family was provided with 10 weeks’ training in basic computer skills, operating a word processor, emailing and websurfing.
After training, the family contributed a $50 commitment fee and received a high-specification, refurbished computer, with internet connection, two free visits from a technician, and phone support through an 0800 number.
Software for the computers was provided through a licensing deal with Microsoft, which allowed its products to be installed free on the refurbished machines.
‘‘The big thing about this invest- ment is that the ministers have indicated that the investment was for the next 12 months,’’ Mr Kelly said. ‘‘They are going to be working on a strategy for the future. That is significant because, while we’ve been getting by in the last 13 years, we’ve never had a strategy.’’
Cannons Creek mother Kathryn Katu was at e-learning Porirua for the announcement with two of her children, Kineisha- Lee, 4, and Kayla-Jay, 2.
The family were in their eighth week of computer training and looking forward to having a computer installed at home, and connected to the internet.
‘‘I didn’t know how to use a computer when I came here,’’ she said.