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Speech on managed network for schools

Hon Nikki Kaye

Associate Minister of Education

2 August 2013

Speech    

Speech on managed network for schools

Tena Kotou, Tena Kotou, Tena Kotou Katoa, Talofa lava, Niha

It is great to be here in the heart of South Auckland at Mangere Central School. It is also great to be here with our Prime Minister and Education Minister Hekia Parata who are both strong advocates of equality of opportunity in our education system. It is only through their belief in the importance of improving learning opportunities through technology that we are here today.

Both have supported me to deliver safe, more connected, modern learning environments to improve learning opportunities for all New Zealand students.

I would like to acknowledge all of the students, teachers and principals here today and Ministry of Education staff. I would also like to acknowledge the Chair of Network for Learning (N4L) Helen Robinson, CEO of N4L John Hanna and CEO of Telecom Simon Moutter.

We are here to make this announcement and acknowledge the superb commitment of this school’s staff, principal, board, parents and students to a modern learning environment.

We know the positive change you are making to the lives of young students here in Mangere. Thank you Maria (Heron, school principal) for your personal commitment to digital literacy.

The Mangere Central School community have been early and leading adopters of online learning and new technologies. From your Mandarin and Japanese language lessons to mathletics, you are doing so well. 

You are one of many schools and school communities around New Zealand who are seeing the huge demand from students and teachers to learn and teach more online.

This demand is rapid. Opportunities to provide more access to learning resources and services are significant. Much of the demand is being driven by students’ thirst to learn more online. This is a worldwide trend.

These include pressure on school budgets with greater use of data; a lack of quality connections with lots of students and teachers trying to access applications at one time; and inequitable provision of service across parts of our school system. Another challenge is that principals and boards can end up spending valuable time working on infrastructure when they could be spending time providing greater learning opportunities and raising achievement.

These challenges are some of the reasons why this Government established the crown company N4L last July

We could see the need to have greater support to schools in the provision of digital infrastructure such as quality predictable connections and uncapped data and access to new technologies, services, and learning resources.

We could also see the benefit of delivering a smart managed network that could help address some of these issues.

When the Government set up N4L, the primary purpose was to procure a network supplier to deliver a managed network.

It is clear that in order to provide our vision of funded, fast, quality connections with uncapped data to schools, a managed network stacks up. N4L selected Telecom as their preferred supplier after a competitive tender and approached shareholding Minsters for their approval of the contract between N4L and Telecom. 

Since then I have taken great care to conduct due diligence to ensure that the case for the managed network stacks up fiscally and technically. The approval was given earlier this week and it was a great moment last night to witness Telecom and N4L sign the contract.

The Government has so far committed $211 million to deliver a funded package of fast, quality, connections with uncapped data to schools. By the end of 2014, 700 schools will be connected and 2016 will see all schools invited to connect. This is in addition to the Government’s investment of $200 million in fibre foundations, and $290 million for school network upgrades. This completes a package of $700 million of digital infrastructure of fibre, school network upgrades and a managed network available to schools by 2016. 

The incentive for schools to sign up is that they will get this Crown funded package rather than using their operations grant.

They will have the certainty and freedom of a funded package of uncapped data with fast quality safe connections. It is not compulsory for schools to be on the managed network. However, given that a package is funded by the Crown, there are strong incentives to do so.

Uncapped data is important because National has a vision that this can help ensure students are never limited in their desire to access learning resources or applications.

Quality connections are important when you think about how much teaching time can be gained from internet services not dropping out in the middle of a lesson. Another advantage will be the provision of more consistent broadcasts of education resources, such as teachers’ lessons to numerous classes across the country. 

N4L will also be delivering a portal so that teachers and students can better connect and collaborate.

The goal is that the portal will enable greater access to rich learning resources and services. N4L will be working with schools and stakeholders to procure content and services.

The Government has provided some funding for this to happen.

It is also envisaged that the Ministry of Education will procure services from N4L for the portal in a range of areas such as language and special education.

It can be difficult at the moment for all teachers and students to navigate and access new rich learning resources. The goal is more quality online education resources and services. The portal will be available to all schools by February 2014. This is a significant step in delivering world class infrastructure for schools. I have set up a 21st Century Learning Reference Group which is working on other important areas such as professional development and device policy. We believe that people and culture change is essential to maximise the learning opportunities of this investment.

This Government is building an education communication highway. I would advocate it is probably the highway of most significance in terms of the futures of so many young Kiwis. Thank you for being here today to celebrate a major step in National’s platform for learning. We are providing a major platform for learning. 

ENDS

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