Bridging the Digital Divide in Te Tai Tokerau

24 April 2015

Bridging the Digital Divide in Te Tai Tokerau

A joint project between Pehiaweri Marae and NorthTec is set to benefit the Tikipunga and Northland community and could spark a generation of digital entrepreneurs.

A government grant of $180,000, announced last week by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce, will be used to teach computing skills at the marae and evaluate a Tikanga Maori digital future.

The grant will be used to employ a Research Educator who will build digital literacy in the community. The Research Educator will be employed and supported by NorthTec and based at the marae, which already acts as a hub of the community.

After a needs analysis has been carried out, the Research Educator will run community workshops on computer technology.

The aim of the project is to teach mechanical literacy, giving an understanding of how computers work; cultural and ethical literacy, to understand cultural sensitivity and safety in a computing context; and coding literacy, for application development.

The funding comes from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Te Pūnaha Hihiko - Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund, which aims to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people for the benefit of New Zealand.

Les Wakefield, Project Manager Pehiaweri Marae, said the project was good news for the marae and would support the growing relationship between the marae and local schools. The Research Educator would add value to the marae’s role as a community learning centre, and the computer workshops would be open to all, he said.

Nigel Studdart, STEM Project Manager for NorthTec, said it was all about integrating science and technology into the community. By teaching computer coding literacy, local people could start developing their own applications (apps), which have huge economic potential.

He said: “This offers fantastic opportunities for Northland, as people can work remotely on app development, and there is a worldwide shortage of coding graduates.”

There would also be opportunities for people to pathway onto NorthTec study programmes as a result of the project, including the Diploma in Information Systems and Bachelor of Applied Management.

For more information, please contact nstuddart@northtec.ac.nz

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