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Labour's IT policy for schools

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A commitment to continuing development of information technology provision in schools is a key part of Labour's education policy for schools released today.

Education spokesperson Trevor Mallard and Information Technology spokesperson Marian Hobbs said Labour wanted to ensure that schools received the right support to enable every New Zealand child to reap the benefits IT could offer. That included increasing the number of schools working in clusters for the purposes of information technology development with an aim to have 100 clusters operational by 2002.

Marian Hobbs, a former school principal, said one of the most important aspects of ensuring IT benefits were maximised, was making sure teachers were on board.

"The teacher is the gateway to the student. If they are not fully au fait with IT, there is little chance that the children will get the maximum educational benefit from IT," Marian Hobbs said.

"Labour will continue and expand on some of the professional development that is already taking place. We will also provide funding to make available some laptops to schools so teachers are better able to put their course learning into practice, to learn by trial and error, to design classwork, and to enter student assessments on-line at home.

"Specific training programmes will be developed to encourage those teaching in te reo Maori to be able to incorporate a greater amount of information technology use into their teaching," Marian Hobbs said.

Trevor Mallard said Labour was also interested in better systems to help schools make sensible information technology decisions.

"Labour will take responsibility for providing advisory services for schools to help them in the software, hardware, and network systems best suited to their individual strategies, and we are prepared to facilitate initiatives including negotiating discounts with suppliers.

"And like the rest of Labour's education policy, we will focus on additional help for low decile schools to help them with purchasing hardware and software. Information Technology in schools is still a relatively new concept and as a Government, we still have a chance to ensure that huge gaps between rich schools and poor schools are not created," Trevor Mallard said.


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