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IBM Celebrates Five Years of Helping Teachers

IBM Celebrates Five Years of Helping Teachers Integrate Technology into the New Zealand Preschool Curriculum

More than 20,000 Kiwi children from Kaitaia to Invercargill have been given the opportunity to build essential IT skills, thanks to IBM’s innovative KidSmart Early Learning Programme

2008 marks five years since IBM introduced the KidSmart Early Learning Programme to New Zealand preschools. KidSmart is a global IBM community initiative that enables preschools and kindergartens to use the latest technology to integrate interactive teaching and learning activities into the preschool curriculum.

"Technological literacy is arguably becoming as important as the ability to read, write and do maths," said Clare Wells, CEO of New Zealand Kindergartens. "IBM's KidSmart programme is an invaluable tool to help preschools around New Zealand build essential IT skills in our youngest learners."

The centrepiece of the KidSmart Early Learning Programme is the 'Young Explorer', a computer equipped with award-winning educational software and housed in colourful 'child-proof' desk furniture.

In the last five years, IBM New Zealand has donated more than 300 of these units to New Zealand's less-privileged kindergartens, preschools and early childhood centres, giving more than 20,000 Kiwi children the opportunity to experiment with information technology and incorporate it into their learning.

Donations have been made as far north as Kataia and as far south as Invercargill and are targeted at kindergartens, preschools and early childhood centres in lower decile areas where children are less likely to have access to computers at home. Through a partnership with City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET), IBM has donated 30 KidSmart units to Pasifika childcare centres in South Auckland.

IBM New Zealand has also trained more than 700 early childhood teachers in New Zealand in how to use the latest technology to integrate interactive teaching and learning activities into the preschool curriculum.

"I've seen first-hand some of the creative and innovative ways that teachers have integrated the KidSmart technology into the preschool curriculum," said Ofa Nai-Saulala, Project Officer for ICT and The Manukau Family Literacy Programme with the City of Manukau Education Trust (COMET). "The teachers have embraced the opportunity to enrich the learning experience for the children, and the children build their IT skills and have fun learning at the same time."

In 2007, IBM New Zealand's KidSmart programme was awarded the inaugural Robin Hood Foundation Social Hero Award for Education Partnership, in recognition of its contribution to education in New Zealand.

In giving the award, the Robin Hood Foundation cited the high level of commitment that IBM New Zealand employees have shown to the programme as one of the reasons the programme was chosen for the award. Each year, more than 100 IBM New Zealand employees volunteer their time to install KidSmart units and train teachers.

Katrina Troughton, Managing Director of IBM New Zealand, said that IBM New Zealand has been very focused in its community investment. "By having a strategic focus on the education sector, we have been able to make a real difference. We're really proud that the KidSmart programme is helping Kiwi kids arrive at primary school with good IT skills and, more importantly, excited to learn more."

- Ends -

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