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TUANZ conference - Trevor Mallard Speech

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister of Education
20 March 2001 Speech Notes

Embargoed until:8.45am

TUANZ conference

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.

I plan to give you an update on some of the ICT education initiatives that the Government is involved in and where we might head from here.

While my head may look bare, I'm actually standing here with three hats on.

I'm Minister of State Services ¡V with responsibility for the Government's e-government's strategy. We want to ensure that all New Zealanders will be able to gain access to government information and services using the internet, telephones, and other technologies as they emerge. That is an important of taking part on democracy.

I'm acting Minister of Commerce where the e-commerce portfolio is being developed. That's an important part of making New Zealand world class in embracing e-commerce for competitive advantage.

And I'm Minister of Education. In Education ICT can be used to stimulate and enhance learning. At the same time, good use of ICT is schools will help a generation of young people to grow up comfortable and confident with modern technology.

If children miss out on that experience in schools, their future options are significantly limited.

That is why a couple of months I was proud to be involved in announcing four digital opportunities pilot projects.

They were projects that were developed by the Prime Minister and other Ministers with the heads of some of the most influential information and communication technology companies in the country.

It did not start off an education project. It started off at looking at what we could do to help ensure access to help all New Zealanders embrace the economic and social benefits of information and communication technology. During those meetings, we quickly came to accept that the education system was the logical place to start. We knew there are a number of barriers that prevent children around New Zealand from fully engaging with ICT. Each of the pilot projects that are being established seeks to respond to one or more of those problems.

The projects are:

Building a Learning Community in the Far North with access to good quality connections to the internet, some computers and software, professional development and bilingual interactive and tailored materials through TKI;

ICT Technology Training which provides five low-decile secondary schools in West Auckland and Gisborne with access to technology qualifications ¡V starting off with this year with the Microsoft qualification.

A project which provides one Invercargill and two Christchurch study support centres with an ICT boost. That includes adequate bandwidth, computers, professional development, student training, technical support, and student support through TKI. I visited Tweedsmuir Junior High School in Invercargill last week. It's one of the schools to benefit through this initiative. They're very excited about the potential this offers not only their students, but also the families of those students. One of the important conditions of this project is the schools' role in extending the availability of this resource to the wider community.

The final project is one based in the Hutt Valley which will provide access to laptops for some year 12 and 13 students in four low-decile schools. The aim is to encourage and assist them with senior science, mathematics and technology options.

These are small pilots that will be heavily monitored and evaluated. ICT is costly and we have to be very careful to ensure we get good value for money with any Government-supported initiatives.

The ICT Strategy for Schools

I expect to incorporate any findings into the ICT strategy for schools.

That strategy, as you might know, was developed in 1998 in consultation with schools.

Its aims were that by 2002 schools would improve student learning outcomes through the use of ICT, use ICT to improve administration and develop partnerships with their communities to enhance access to learning through ICT.

When I became Minister, I was comfortable with those ideals. But it is time to look back at what we have achieved and where we might go to from here.

Some of the achievements so far include:

„h The development of Te Kete Ipurangi.
„h Producing a planning and implementation guide for schools and provision of professional development for principals;
„h Completion of ¡¥Principals First¡¦ workshops for most principals;
„h More than 1100 teachers have attending Information Technology professional development.
„h Ninety-nine percent of schools have completed an approved ICT plan and received ICT funding to work through that plan.

So there is a lot to be proud of. But the information technology highway is not one we can afford to coast on. I have made a decision that it is time to review that strategy to look at where we are and where we need to be in three years time.

For the strategy to be of value, it must be relevant to principals, teachers, researchers and academics with an interest in education. Small reference groups will be involved in drafting an updated strategy. Those of you who will not be able to be involved in the early stages will have an opportunity to have your say when the draft strategy is released for comment.

I want to talk briefly about just some of the initiatives that are going on under the umbrella of the ICT strategy based on the experiences I have had since becoming Minister of Education.

I'm very supportive of the ICT professional development clusters.

They do seem to be meeting the objective to help teachers build their own skills as well as developing examples of good practice to benefit others. This programme has been expanded this year with an additional 28 clusters. There is now a total of 51 clusters, impacting directly on the learning and teaching in over 500 schools. This includes 30 of 59 kura.

When the clusters gathered earlier this year, I briefly gate-crashed their conference dinner. I was impressed by the participants' enthusiasm and vitality. They were very focused on teaching and learning.

One of the messages I would like to leave with you today is the importance of sharing your experiences with other teaching professionals and schools. No school is an island. I believe one of the most destructive aspects of the way tomorrow's schools developed was how it pitted schools against each other in a competitive manner that has meant less sharing of information. That approach to education is one that I want to leave behind. ICT is an area where it is essential to share knowledge and experiences if we are to make the gains we need. It is also a tool by which we can share that knowledge and experience.

In particular, I refer to TKI which is constantly updating its resources in this area.

Computers in Homes Update

I also had the pleasure recently in launching the Computers in Homes website at Cannons Creek School and presenting certificates to some of the parents who have been regular attendees at courses

Computers in Homes is a pilot programme aimed at improving learning outcomes for low decile students and their families by providing a free computer for home use with free internet access for six months. Students use the computers to assist them with their school work whilst parents are offered free training courses with local providers in order for them to develop their own computer skills. A requirement for this is that they in turn help a neighbour or friend by sharing their knowledge.

The programme is still being evaluated but there are some wonderful success stories like people have got promotions and jobs because they are able to demonstrate that they have computer skills. One person who has never had a job managed to get one because she has now got computer skills.

Another exciting project is one where Wharekura and Maori boarding schools are being linked for video-conferencing. ICT is being used to provide solutions to help with the shortage of fluent speakers of Te Reo who also have the necessary subject-specific knowledge needed at the senior secondary school level.

That is certainly a prime example of sharing a limited human resource through the good use of ICT. It is something I am keen to see used more in small secondary schools. Of course I am well aware that there are major bandwidth issues to tackle before we can fully realise this kind of potential.

I could stand here all day and talk about some of the exciting projects that are going on in schools. However, my time here is limited so I want to finish by thanking you all for being here.

I know a large majority of you are teachers and by being here today you are showing that you are committed to improving you ability to use ICT in your schools and institutions.

As a Government, we are committed to raising achievement and excellence within the New Zealand education system. We want an education system that operates within a climate of innovation and application. This will in turn strengthen innovation in New Zealand, ensuring our success as a society. We will have an education system where eagles can fly. We will also be honest when things aren¡¦t going right and be prepared to help those learners, teachers and institutions who struggle.

Thank you for your time.

ENDS

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