Invercargill to pilot laptop scheme

Te Rourou Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation will look to supply senior pupils from Aurora College and Te Wharekura o Arowhenua with laptops to use at home and school.

Invercargill has been chosen to pilot a new initiative by the Te Rourou Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation, which will support young people with laptop devices.

The foundation was formed in 2002 and seeks to enable better outcomes for youth, especially those who experience disadvantages and exclusion.

Schools selected to be a part of the Device Equity programme trial run were Aurora College and Te Wharekura o Arowhenua.

The project will ask corporate partners and customers to donate their old laptops for the initiative. Co-ordinators hoped to begin the pilot in term one with 200 laptops.

Business lead Sinead Kirwan said many young people in the area needed support with resources.

“We all know digital exclusion is a big problem and learning is so connected to digital devices nowadays.”

A recent nationwide study found half of low decile schools reported the majority of their pupils did not have access to digital devices at home.

“Learning doesn’t stop at school in your senior years of college and though cellphones are amazing they are not ideal for college assignments,” Mrs Kirwan said.

One of the reasons Invercargill was selected for the project included the results of a survey which showed 30% of young people were facing challenges and disadvantages, higher than the national average of 23%.

The Vodafone foundation will launch a new $400,000 grant, Thriving in Murihiku, next week which organisations who support young people could apply for.

It will also look to recruit a new “community catalyst” position which will focus on building connections within the Invercargill district, Mrs Kirwan said.