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First Step To Educate For A Knowledge Economy

The Prime Minister followed on from yesterday's launch of the Government's Bright Future project with the opening of a New Zealand prototype for technology-based schools at Riccarton High School in Christchurch today. "To say I am impressed is an understatement", says the Rt Hon. Mrs Shipley "I genuinely believe that projects such as this will pay huge dividends. It will make a difference not only to young Canterburians but New Zealand as a whole."

The Riccarton Project is a joint venture between the NZ Intellectual Capital Foundation (NZInC), Riccarton High School and the Riccarton Project (owned by the School Board). NZInC provided funding and project management for the $3million, three-year project through one of its founders and patrons Dennis Chapman.

The Prime Minister was given a tour of the recently completed 1000 square foot teacher training facility, which has seven full time staff providing training modules and developing resources for the curriculum. The Riccarton Project has also installed 150 computers in the school for access by staff and students.

"It is not a case of throwing computers at a school and hoping for the best, but developing an integrated programme which allows information technologies to enhance the learning process," says Dennis Chapman. NZInC is comprised of leaders from within the software, high-tech and export industry and is committed to ensuring that New Zealand schools are not left behind in the "Knowledge Age.

"The project started because we could not find enough suitably qualified staff for our own hi-tech businesses within New Zealand," says Dennis Chapman. "When we approached tertiary institutions, we realised they were too far down the chain. That the change had to start at Primary and Secondary School level."

"The Riccarton Project is just the beginning," he says. "NZInC is looking for patrons to take concept to other schools throughout New Zealand. The challenge ahead is giving all children, not just the academically able, the chance to prosper in the Knowledge Age. What the Prime Minister opened today is a significant step along the way."

The Prime Minister acknowledged the role that NZInC and the Riccarton Project has to play for the future. "If we are to succeed in the future we must have commitment and attitude to make things happen. We have got to recognise tall poppies and bright ideas and provide the infrastructure to nurture them and let them grow. Today, too many strike down tall poppies before they blossom. By unlocking young minds and letting them be inspired by all that is around them, we will allow our country to grow. When I think of the inspired people who have dared to get together to make this happen, such as the School Board, Dennis Chapman and the Foundation (NZInC), then I have every confidence in the future of this country."

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