The Government’s $87.7 million Covid-19 Distance Learning Package is coming to a close but has helped build a more resilient education network to withstand future disruption.
Ellen MacGregor Reid, the Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary Early Learning and Student Achievement, said the Distance Learning Package was a big job delivered at pace to help support continuity of learning in partnership with schools and kura.
Under the package the Ministry:
- Set up two television education channels that were on air five days a week and received 3.6 million views.
- Sent out around 280,000 education hard packs.
- Created more online resources for parents through the Learning from Home and Ki te Ao Mārama websites.
- Provided access to around 50,000 home Wi-Fi connections.
- Distributed over 16,000 school-owned devices to students
- Delivered over 25,000 new laptops and Chromebooks to students. Priority was given to students studying NCEA subjects in Years 11 to 13 and the majority of requests in these year groups across all deciles have been met.
To support schools, kura and students through any further disruptions, the Ministry has set up a virtual learning environment in ClassroomNZ2020, an online Learning Management System and Professional Learning and Development has been provided for teachers to upskill, where needed, to provide on-line classes and learning for their students. There is also a supply of hard pack materials and the Ministry can reactivate the television channels set up during COVID-19.
Work is also underway to ensure that at least two-thirds of NCEA exams can be delivered digitally by 2022. That will be supported by work to develop digital identities for secondary students so they can log on to access their exams and results when they are released.
Ellen MacGregor Reid said within the current funding provided, the Ministry would not be able to fulfil the remaining outstanding requests from schools or computer devices.
The Government has considered additional funding for these devices, but has had to weigh this up against a wide range of needs and priorities in response to COVID-19.
Ellen MacGregor Reid said the Ministry will continue to work with the telco industry, NGOS and other Government agencies to further address New Zealand’s digital divide which has been highlighted by the COVID-19 response.