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Ben Lummis makes a $10m School Connection

8 September 2004

Ben Lummis makes a $10m School Connection

New Zealand Idol winner Ben Lummis today demonstrated the possibilities of technology for schools when he performed live at one of New Zealand's biggest virtual education events. Thousands of students around the country joined Ben, star rugby player Doug Howlett, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung for The Great School Connection at Papakura High School.

More than 45 schools around the country connected to the event via video conference, some from more than 1000km away in Otago. Hundreds more were watching by live webcast and listening in by audio conference.

The live interactive event celebrated Telecom's redesigned School Connection programme and the new $10 million level of funding for schools each year through the programme. Until now, School Connection has contributed $9 million a year to schools since the programme began in 1993. Telecom customers will continue to decide how the funding is distributed to schools and early learning centres around New Zealand. Residential customers can sign up as School Connection sponsors and nominate a school to receive support based on their residential telecommunications spending with Telecom.

Theresa Gattung opened the event from Papakura High, and Helen Clark addressed the audience by video conference from the Beehive in Wellington.

Students at eleven of the schools joined by video conference were also broadcast out to the wider audience when they addressed questions to the Prime Minister, Ms Gattung and Ben Lummis.

Telecom Chief Executive Theresa Gattung says a virtual schools event spanning New Zealand is a fitting celebration of School Connection.

"School Connection has contributed more than $90m to schools right across the country since the programme began in 1993.

"Education is what the future of New Zealand is all about and we think a company in Telecom's position has a responsibility to make a contribution.

"These days schools are using increasingly sophisticated information technology. Now with School Connection, they will be able to redeem their points - earned by their sponsors in the community - for a host of IT options from Telecom and other providers," she said.

"When you see what is happening in schools you see what technology really means. It comes alive. School Connection is a way to make that affordable for more schools."

ENDS

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