Programme bridging NZ's digital divide since 2001 to be axed in June

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1 NEWS

It's feared the digital divide between rich and poor could continue to widen, with the long-running Computers in Homes scheme soon coming to an end. 

1,600 families from low decile schools have signed up each year to get computer training and a second-hand PC.
Source: 1 NEWS

The programme helped families in need to access computer training and receive a secondhand PC, but is now facing the axe. 

Students who graduate from the twenty-hour course receive a refurbished computer and a year of technical support. 

"I've found it absolutely fabulous, enlightening, learning so many things I had no idea about," said participant Karen Kennedy. 

The heavily subsidised course costs each person $50, with 1,600 families from low decile schools signing up each year since 2001. 

"Parents were illiterate when it came to computers. I had one mother come in with a mouse that she put on the screen, had no idea how to use it," said Nicola Adams from the Colwill School Community Hub. 

The idea is that parents with a computer and computer skills are better able to support their children's learning and make life easier for families in the internet age. 

The Education Ministry has been chipping in more than $3 million a year, with the programme run by the 20/20 Trust.

"Of those surveyed last year, I think 18 per cent of adults within that family got a job as a result of going through the programme, nine per cent got a promotion at work," the trust's executive director Stephen Carr said. 

But the Government said technology is changing.

"If those young people are on mobile devices and we're trying to deliver a desktop, that doesn't make sense," Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said. 

"The existing programme wouldn't be funded in its shape and form. What we're discussing is, what potentially would other programmes look like?"

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