News, Events and Culture

Digits programme to roll out in Highbury

Monday June 27 2016

A city-wide digital programme is on a mission to provide devices, internet connections and digital literacy tuition to 1,000 households with school-aged children in Palmerston North by 2018.

Photo shows two enthusiastic schoolboys intently focused on using laptop computers.

The Digits programme aims to lessen Palmerston North's digital divide.

A city-wide digital programme is on a mission to provide devices, internet connections and digital literacy tuition to 1,000 households with school-aged children in Palmerston North by 2018.

Digital citizenship coordinator Bronwyn Meads is coordinating the rollout of the Digits programme in Highbury. This follows a successful pilot project in Roslyn where parents and teachers agreed that it was affordable and met a need in the community.

Working in partnership with Te Aroha Noa community services, she will facilitate and work with families, schools, community organisations and stakeholders to provide families with school-aged children with mobile technology, a Chromebook, an internet connection and digital literacy tuition.

A comparison of areas shows that Highbury is the most digitally excluded area in the city: 32% of households with dependent children do not have access to the internet, compared to the city average of 13% or Aokautere at 6%.

Ms Meads says people in Highbury have "huge community pride, strong community agencies, and social cohesion. This is the place to invest in.”

Te Aroha Noa chief executive, Bruce Maden believes Digits is an exciting initiative that will make a significant difference to educational outcomes in Highbury.

“Every child in Palmerston North should have the opportunity to be connected."

Te Aroha Noa's Computers in Homes programme had begun to address digital exclusion by providing 45 Highbury families with computers - "but that only scrached the surface," says Mr Maden. "The Digits programme allows a scaling up of our aim to ensure every home in Highbury is digitally connected."

The project is hosting two fundraisers.

A Givealittle page has been set up for people to donate money to support the cause at givealittle.co.nz/profile/group/digits.

A fundraising quiz and auction night will be held on Friday 1 July 2016 at Hotel Coachman. Register your team of six to support Digits Highbury, where all money raised will ensure that every family in Highbury is digitally connected with a device and internet connection.

Special guests include TV show Nothing Trivial’s Aaron Ward and Will Hall. To book a table please contact Te Aroha Noa at events@tearohanoa.org.nz.

Principal of Roslyn School, Joanne How believes that having more internet-enabled devices for students helps to lessen the digital divide and decreases the learning gap between pupils with and without web access.

“Being a low-decile school we struggle to get funding and to have something like this is just amazing”, she says.

Teachers saw an increase in students' confidence in numeracy, literacy and problem-solving online. Parents were able to be involved in their child’s homework and communicate electronically with their child’s school as well.