2015 marked the 15th anniversary of Computers in Homes, which has changed the lives of more than 15,000 families by connecting them to the internet and giving them the skills and confidence to use technology and better support their children’s education. The programme enjoys widespread support from schools, whānau, and community and political leaders, and everyone who attends a graduation is moved by the experience of seeing families take a crucial first step towards digital literacy.
Focus on Auckland
We continue to increase our emphasis on the Auckland region, which is home to more than 30% of disconnected families with school-aged children. In the year, the number of graduates in Auckland was 191, and in 2015-16 we plan to increase this to 300 to respond to the demand for the programme, particularly in South and West Auckland.
External review: programme addresses barriers, is value for money
Computers in Homes received government funding for one year, pending a review of the programme. The review, which was completed in June 2015, found that the rationale for intervention in digital exclusion is strong,the basic design of the core programme is valid and addresses the main barriers to digital inclusion, and that Computers in Homes represents value for money. The review made suggestions for improvements in programme design and delivery, which we are implementing. We appreciate that future government investment decisions need to be considered within the wider economic context and prioritised across portfolios. We await government decisions on future funding of Computers in Homes.
Trials of laptops and BYOD devices
Since 2000, when the programme started, technology has seen tectonic shifts, and we continue to adjust the programme to respond to these. During the year, we completed a successful trial of the use of laptops for graduating families; they have proved very popular because of the greater flexibility within the home, and we are evaluating the longer term impact on reliability and support costs. We also completed a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) pilot for children at schools that have introduced a BYOD policy. This enables families to select a laptop or tablet device and use it for learning while paying off the cost on a weekly basis; during the coming year we will complete the evaluation of the pilot.
DORA delivers to the West Coast
In the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, we equipped DORA (Digital On-Road Access) as a mobile digital learning facility to enable delivery of our programmes in areas without facilities. During the year we moved DORA to the West Coast to deliver our programmes over a wider geographic area.
ICDL focus on jobseekers; successful prison pilot
Our ICDL programme provides learners with an internationally recognised certificate which is benchmarked to NCEA Level 2. The focus of the programme is on jobseekers, and we will support 7,500 people over the three years to achieve this level of digital competence. After a successful pilot in Christchurch prison, Corrections Department is considering implementing the ICDL programme on a national basis; offenders that leave our prisons will have a valuable skill to assist in their re-entry into the job market.
Staff, contractors and partners share common goal
During the year, we took the significant step to appoint an Executive Director. Since 2002, we have operated an organisation based on contracted staff; while this provided the flexibility to respond to fluctuations in funding, it placed a significant management burden on Trustees, and created blurred accountabilities between governance and management. With the strengthening of the Board in the last two years, this was the right time to make the change, and I am delighted that we managed to recruit Vanisa Dhiru to take up the position from February 2015. I am confident that she will provide excellent leadership to our team and our programmes.
I want to thank all our staff, contractors, partners and others involved in our programmes to improve digital literacy. We need to eliminate digital exclusion in New Zealand, which can be done by organisations and people working together for a common goal. I look to the future with confidence.