Internet connectivity making a meaningful difference to remote communities

Issue: Volume 101, Number 12

Posted: 21 September 2022
Reference #: 1HAWTb

Te Aka Toitū Trust works with communities in the Eastern Bay of Plenty to get students connected and engaged in learning online. The trust has worked with provider WiFi Connect and the local community to deliver affordable, high-quality internet to Murupara, Minginui, Ruatāhuna and nearby areas.

Representatives from Ministry of Education EDA team, Te Tai Whenua, Department of Internal Affairs and Network for Learning, were hosted by Te Aka Toitū Trust in Te Urewera.

Representatives from Ministry of Education EDA team, Te Tai Whenua, Department of Internal Affairs and Network for Learning, were hosted by Te Aka Toitū Trust in Te Urewera.

Since early 2020, Te Tāhuhu o Te Mātauranga | The Ministry of Education has partnered with Te Aka Toitū Trust and its local installers to connect nearly 100 unconnected whānau and ākonga to the internet.

The trust recently hosted representatives from the Ministry’s Equitable Digital Access (EDA) team and
Te Tai Whenua office, together with representatives from the Department of Internal Affairs and Network for Learning.

Kaumatua Morgan Matekuare (Ngāti Whare) and Chaz Doherty (Ngāi Tūhoe) welcomed the manuhiri and showed them first-hand the incredible progress in internet connectivity achieved within Te Whāiti, Minginui, and Te Urewera.

Visiting Te Kura Toitū a Te Whāiti-nui-a-Toi, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Huiarau in Ruatāhuna and other local facilities highlighted the strength of iwi and community-led initiatives to connect whānau in isolated areas.

Before internet rollout to 56 families in and around Ruatāhuna, over half the school population had no reliable telecommunications service. The school now has almost everyone connected, meaning administration and communication can now be done digitally, which has had a hugely positive impact on engagement with whānau and meeting students’ learning needs.

Access to the internet is now possible in communities like Pāpueru (near Ruatāhuna) due to the installation of Wi-Fi towers, dish receivers and modems.

Prior to the tower installation, hard to reach communities often had no service available. Some of the kāinga do not have mains power, but the internet connection technology can work with generator power.

Internet access has enabled isolated learners and their whānau to be connected to the world and has wider community benefits, for example allowing the Minginui Nursery to build its e-commerce presence and its staff to access horticultural training online.

It has also enabled more reliable communication (via Wi-Fi VoIP calling) for the community fire brigade. Working with Te Aka Toitū has given the Ministry the opportunity to take practical action to give effect to support equitable access for Māori and give priority to regional and local voices.

Equitable Digital Access programme lead Peter Bisley says, “It was pleasing to hear how connectivity had enabled the community to support the needs of extremely remote whānau isolating with Covid. For some kaumatua and kuia this connectivity allowed them to videocall with their overseas mokopuna for the first time from their ancestral kāinga.”

ConnectED Ako: Digital and Data for Learning

Education agencies are working on a strategy to address the benefits and possibilities of digital and data approaches for teaching and learning, so learners and whānau, educators and providers can flourish in the digital future.

Digitally fluent and literate people are equipped to learn, live, and work, contributing to personal fulfilment, job opportunities, and the nation’s growth.

This strategy is the work of Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and the Network for Learning and related education entities, to outline the aspirations and priorities for digital and data in education – from early childhood to tertiary and beyond.

Education agencies say some shared principles and aspirations for digital and data will help guide their decisions and investments over the coming decade.

Insights and understanding have come from discussion and research with partners and stakeholders across the education community and beyond. Look for more information in an upcoming issue of Education Gazette.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:51 am, 21 September 2022

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