Programme gets families turned on

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 18/12/2013

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More Horowhenua families are getting switched on thanks to a technology in homes scheme.

For the first time in Foxton, 18 families have graduated from the national Computers in Homes programme, which aims to have the technology within reach of all New Zealand families with school-aged kids.

Foxton Primary School, which helped run the initiative, set up a computer suite in the staff room for parents to practise on.

Principal Tina McLean said it was a chance for people to upskill, connect and grow their computer confidence.

This year's census data shows more than 4800 households in Horowhenua don't have internet access and Mrs McLean said more than a third of the school's students didn't have a computer at home.

Through the programme, parents and caregivers completed 20 hours' study over the past eight weeks, including lessons on how to use Office, Excel, PowerPoint and various internet sites.

They were recognised in a graduation ceremony last night, after which families took home a computer and a cheap internet connection rate in time for Christmas.

The Timutimu family, from Foxton, were among the handful of families to sign up for the scheme.

Nikora Timutimu, along with his wife, Vanessa, and their four boys Isaiah, 14, Leighton, 13, Te Kauri, 8, and Kahikatea, 5, don't have a computer at home.

"It's something for us as a family that wasn't a priority or a necessity," Mrs Timutimu said.

Previously they have gone down to the library to use the free three 30-minute sessions allocated per person per day to do things like internet banking, drawing up CVs or school assignments.

"My skills beforehand were limited to just being able to turn on the sounds - I didn't know about using all the Microsoft Office skills," Mr Timutimu said.

Through the course he has created a bilingual picture book based on road safety now being used as a teaching resource in the school's early education centre and new entrants class.

Computers in Homes regional co-ordinator Sarah Lee said more than 10,000 families in low-income communities had been connected to the internet with computers at home.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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