More schools get fast broadband

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 23/01/2014

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More Manawatu schools have joined the roll call for free, fast internet and just in time for school to start next week.

In a move towards a new era of modern learning, the Government is pouring $211 million into a managed internet network for New Zealand schools - which is touted as a world first.

The Network for Learning (N4L) package runs as the best mix of ultra-fast, rural and remote broadband that is available to Kiwis.

Palmerston North's St Peter's College was one of the first to be named as part of the package last year, with deputy principal Jon Bowen welcoming the inclusion, saying free fibre and faster internet offered more educational opportunities.

"One of the skills we need students to be leaving school with is digital literacy - there's almost no jobs where you can't be somewhat capable on the computer, so it's one of the key things students need to be fluent in when they leave."

St Peter's and Waiopehu College in Levin are among 49 schools nationwide to have completed the necessary transition and are already using the network ahead of term 1 starting.

Waiopehu principal Barry Petherick said the package allowed the school to extend its curriculum, and boost staff professional development by linking in with others around the country.

The start of a new year has also seen West End and Milson primary schools, in Palmerston North, added to a list of more than 200 schools nationwide to sign up for the system.

Through N4L schools have been offered the fully funded, uncapped, high-speed internet, content filtering and network security services.

The plan is to connect pupils around the country through portals letting them, and their teachers, work together through digital teaching tools.

"This is great news for our children as they begin the new schooling year over the next couple of weeks," Education Minister Hekia Parata said.

"Their learning is the most critical element in education and we want to ensure we are supporting their needs in a technologically savvy environment."

It should cut costs, reduce technology complexities and take pressure off principals negotiating network deals, Associate Minister of Education Nikki Kaye said.

The aim is to have more than 700 connected to N4L by the end the year and all Kiwi schools invited to connect by the end of 2016.

Some Palmerston North schools have their own internet systems already set up, separate to the N4L package.

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- Manawatu Standard

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