INDEPENDENT NEWS

Big Internet Boost For Regional Communities

Published: Thu 23 May 2002 02:38 PM
Big Internet Boost For Remote And Regional Communities
The government is to spend tens of millions of dollars to get fast speed internet access in provincial and rural communities.
Telecommunication suppliers will be asked to tender for the work region by region and it is hoped to have a substantial portion of the work completed by the end of next year.
The initiative is jointly funded through education and economic development funding. The exact amount of funding will remain confidential for commercial reasons.
Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton said broadband was crucial for New Zealand’s economic and social development and fundamental to transforming the economy.
“This initiative will open the door to future opportunities for rural and provincial businesses as well as enhance social development. It will assist businesses in rural areas by providing better access to markets and information.
“It will also have major social benefits by ensuring that people living in rural and provincial areas have the same access as other New Zealanders to the wide variety of services now available online.
“In February the government released the growth and innovation strategy. Skill development and global connectedness is an important aspect of that strategy and this announcement shows our commitment in this area,” Jim Anderton said.
Jim Anderton said that information gathered through the regional broadband pilots announced last year had resulted in the decision to use a regional tender process.
Education Minister Trevor Mallard said the initiative was critical to ensuring that children living in provincial and rural areas were not left behind.
“Effective use of ICT is not only desirable in education today - it is essential. There is a wealth of learning resources available online and giving children the
skills to use ICT effectively is crucial to giving them the skills to succeed in a knowledge based society. Children should not miss out on this just because of where they live.
“The government also has a range of strategies to equip teachers with the necessary skills and tools to use ICT in teaching and administration. This includes funding for ICT professional development clusters and support for laptops for secondary school teachers. ICT provides a useful way in which teachers can share ideas and resources with each other to improve the quality of their teaching.
“The initiative will also support government plans to utilise the advantage that two way video over high speed internet connections can allow specialist school subjects to be taught to learners at very remote locations.
“Already pilots have shown that this could be a successful way in offer rural secondary school students access to as wide a range of subjects as their city colleagues benefit from. It also allows teachers in remote communities to be national leaders in subject niches in a way previously unthought of,” Trevor Mallard said.
Ends

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