As the covid pandemic continues, leading national tech non-government organisation NZTech, has put a call out to New Zealanders and remind them that not everyone has access to devices to keep working or learning during lockdowns.
Kiwis should donate their unwanted computers, laptops, tablets or chargers during lockdown to help those students who don’t have electronic devices.
It is so difficult for many students in Aotearoa to access a device for lockdown-learning, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.
The Ministry of Education is continuing to provide device support, prioritising year nine to 13 students most impacted.
However, many students throughout New Zealand still don’t have a suitable digital device to learn on during lockdown. How is this possible, he says.
“If the government can spend $44 million to encourage businesses to use more digital technologies, shouldn’t we be able to spend a few million to make sure that every New Zealand student has a digital device? If we want a safe and prosperous future New Zealand, no kid can be left behind.
“If we know the lifetime economic cost on society of someone going to prison, surely we should be able to calculate the lifetime economic cost of students not having access to digital devices?
“Plus, the missed opportunity to learn appropriate skills to be productive when they finish school. My instincts tell me this is an essential investment required to improve access to digital devices and digital education for our ākonga (students) and rangatahi (young people).
“Meanwhile, if you want to help, there are some great not-for-profit initiatives out there working to help people get the digital tools they need to be successful.
“One example is the Digital Wings Trust who encourage businesses to donate old equipment which they refurbish and use to support community organisations.”
Another leading example is Recycle a Device (RAD) who repurpose donations of old laptops into working devices for students in need.
Once donations are collected, RAD teaches high school students in-demand tech engineering skills to refurbish the laptops themselves, and then works with community groups to get them into the hands of ākonga and rangatahi who need them.
RAD was established last year during the first covid lockdown last year. The difference between the learning outcomes of students who had a laptop and could participate in online study and those who didn’t was alarming, Muller says.
“If any Kiwis have a laptop and charger which is less than 10 years old, please donate it. Also, please ask your business organisation to do the same.
“Additional support and funding for these organisations is also needed to cover operations, parts, couriers and training. The overall cost of refurbishing a laptop via these programmes is less than buying commercially refurbished or new laptops. Plus, it also diverts e-waste from landfill.
“The tech sector is growing so fast and creating so many new jobs that we need to make sure as many New Zealand students as possible have the opportunity and devices available so they can get onto the pathway to high paid exciting jobs in tech.”