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Dick Smith Partners with 2020 Trust - Tackles Digital Divide

Embargoed until 10am Tuesday 17 December 2013

Dick Smith partners with 2020 Trust to help tackle New Zealand’s digital divide

Dick Smith has announced a new sponsorship for the 2020 Communications Trust’s Computers in Homes programme. The announcement was made in Christchurch today by Micah Gamman, Director for Dick Smith in New Zealand.

Part of the sponsorship includes new laptop computers for DORA, the Trust’s mobile digital learning centre, based in Christchurch. Representatives from the 2020 Trust and Computers in Homes were present to receive the new equipment.

“We are delighted with this support from Dick Smith,” said Laurence Millar, Chair of the 2020 Communications Trust. “Our Computers in Homes programme is 50% funded by central government, but we rely on support from business and community partners to make up the balance.”

Computers in Homes currently supports 1500 families with school-aged children each year to develop their digital skills and connect to the internet. “Our vision is for every school-aged child to have access to the internet in their homes within 5 years; it is important for these children to have parents and grandparents who have the confidence to use digital technologies and engage with their children’s learning,” said Mr Millar.

“The latest Census data released earlier this month revealed that there are just over 62,000 households with school-aged children that do not have access to the internet. This means over 200,000 children are immediately disadvantaged when it comes to 21st Century learning, as their online access will be restricted to school hours whereas their peers will have access 24 hours/ 7 days a week. The support from Dick Smith will help to address this digital divide and ensure all our children have equitable learning opportunities,” he said.

Di Daniels, National Coordinator for the Computers in Homes programme echoed this commitment. “Our programme is already operating in 70% of the 38 districts that fall below the national average. We plan to continue to focus on the regions with the greatest digital disconnect. Kawerau District has the unenviable record of being the most digitally disconnected region, with 43% of all households with school-aged children not having an internet connection. This contrasts with the Orakei and Albany Wards in Auckland where only 4% don’t have a connection,” she said.

“Dick Smith has a retail presence in 61 communities throughout New Zealand. We have already started to discuss with the Dick Smith team how Computers in Homes families in these communities can benefit from this strong local retail presence. In 2014, we will be piloting an extension to Computers in Homes that provides opportunities for these families to own affordable tablet devices for their children so that they can engage with their schools’ BYOD (bring your own device) programmes. The relationship with Dick Smith will provide an opportunity for families to evaluate different products and select the most suitable devices for their children,” Ms Daniels concluded.

The 2020 Communications Trust was established in 1996 by the Wellington City Council to promote a more digitally connected and digitally literate community. In the year 2000, the Trust expanded to cover digitally disadvantaged communities throughout New Zealand and currently has digital literacy programmes including Computers in Homes, Stepping Up and KiwiSkills operating in 20 communities from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

ENDS

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