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KidSmart Early Learning Programme

IBM and the National Kindergarten Association Launch KidSmart Early Learning Programme

June 25th 2004, Nelson, New Zealand, IBM and the New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated today announced the launch of KidSmart, an innovative educational initiative designed to provide disadvantaged 3 – 6 year old children with access to technology. The KidSmart educational programme provides kindergartens with custom built PC-kiosks, award winning educational software and teacher training in how to use the technology.

The KidSmart programme is designed to introduce technology to young children, their parents and teachers, in ways that enhance early childhood education. To date IBM has donated 10 KidSmart units to kindergartens in the Wellington Region. Today at New Zealand Kindergartens conference in Nelson, IBM announced a public-private partnership with New Zealand Kindergartens to install a further 80 KidSmart units in early childhood centres throughout New Zealand by the end of 2004. When selecting kindergartens for the programme, various socio-economic criteria are considered to ensure that KidSmart educational resources are provided to centres where they will have the greatest impact.

IBM New Zealand Managing Director, Nick Lambert, said, “In today’s knowledge-led economy, education of our children is vital for our nation’s future success. IBM is committed to helping bridge the “Digital Divide” through programmes such as KidSmart to help under-resourced areas benefit from access to technology.

IBM is training early childhood teachers in use of the KidSmart technology so that they can work with other teachers in kindergartens and early childhood centres that have a Kidsmart unit to encourage them to incorporate the KidSmart programme into their program. IBM’s KidSmart programme aims to attract and involve parents to support the use of technology in the home and at school.

“Technology is a facilitator of learning. KidSmart is helping to equip our children with the critical skills they will need in the future. KidSmart is a tool that enriches teaching and learning, so that children arrive at primary school prepared and excited to learn,” said Mr. Lambert.

New Zealand Kindergartens President, Karen Boyes said, “We are delighted to be part of the kidsmart program. This will allow kindergartens to incorporate technology into their centres enhancing the dynamic, friendly, learning environment for children who may not have normally have access to computers."

IBM’s KidSmart programme is part of the company’s Corporate Community Relations programme which aims to make strategic investments that help benefit communities by using IBM’s technological expertise in the important mission of corporate citizenship.

On IBM’s Corporate Community Relations (CCR) programme, Mr. Lambert said, “IBM’s commitment to solutions-oriented innovation requires that we go beyond simple cheque book philanthropy. We are working hand-in-hand with public and non-profit organizations to design technology solutions that address specific problems. These kind of partnerships requires our grantee organizations to make significant commitments to us – to go beyond business as usual, to set clear benchmarks and to focus on measurable results.” Mrs Boyes said “We are delighted to develop a partnership that will ensure that New Zealand’s skill base is enhanced. The potential benefits of ICT for young children’s learning are well documented”

Yesterday in Christchurch, as part of IBM’s CCR programme, IBM launched a TryScience kiosk at Science Alive! TryScience is a custom designed educational resource for 8 – 12 year olds. TryScience includes an interactive computer kiosk that acts as a “virtual science centre” linking to activities at science museums around the world. TryScience content is developed by the New York Hall of Science and ASTC museums and the entire network is centrally managed and updated by IBM. IBM launched a TryScience kiosk at the Otago Museum in Dunedin last month.

Other IBM CCR activities include a partnership with Women In Technology to help create awareness among New Zealand women about the benefits and advantages of careers in technology. IBM is providing support to Women In Technology for its training courses, educational outreach and networking programmes.

ENDS


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