Computer course helping 'digitally disadvantaged' saves ailing mother's family

Verity Shuttleworth, centre, with tutor Angela Coleman and Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson.
Verity Shuttleworth

Verity Shuttleworth, centre, with tutor Angela Coleman and Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson.

A Rangitikei programme that changed the life of a Marton mother who was unable to afford a computer has been axed. 

Verity Shuttleworth is one of 12 Computers in Homes graduates, who each receive a free computer upon finishing the eight-week course.

The class has been helping digitally disadvantaged people since 2010. However, tutor Angela Coleman said a funding freeze from the Ministry of Education meant this year would be the programme's last. 

IT graduates from Marton.
Verity Shuttleworth

IT graduates from Marton.

Shuttleworth said the course had been a "life-changing" experience and had put her children on the same playing field as other students. 

Her children had missed out on a lot of digital homework and learning that was promoted through schools. The course had taught her practical skills such as how to use Google, which she could then pass on to her children. 

"I always felt incredibly sad for my children not having the same options as all the other kids at school.

"Enrolling in this course has been completely life-changing. Angela has the patience of a saint. 

"All of the students were completely different - some young and old and some who didn't even speak English." 

Coleman said the programme had provided 68 families, 168 children, in Rangitikei with a computer. 

To be part of the modern world people needed to be comfortable using resources on the internet, she said. 

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"It is more than just being able to use Facebook and play games. I believe that the computer is the best self-learning tool that there is.

"For me, it's an honour to take these parents on a digital journey, preparing them to take their own children on a similar journey." 

The programme targeted families who were rural and isolated, younger, older, low income, Maori or Pacifica. 

The class was based out of Marton, which homed 12 iMac computers, and Ratana, which had six.

When the programme was first initiated, Coleman worked closely with Marton schools to identify suitable families. 

Funding was provided by the 2020 Communications Trust and Ministry of Education. 

 - Stuff

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