Government Inquiry recognises Computers in Homes

Di Daniels (CiH) and Chris Worsley (Pomare School) at Select Committee

A new report, tabled in Parliament, on parental engagement in lifting student achievement acknowledges the contribution that Computers in Homes is making in strengthening relationships and engagement with children and their families. The report was prepared by the Education and Science Select Committee and chaired by National MP, Dr Cam Calder. The report acknowledges that “children achieve more when their parents are engaged in their learning and work with teachers”.

The 2020 Trust was one of 79 organisations that provided a submission to the Select Committee Inquiry. A copy of our submission is presented below. Di Daniels (National Coordinator for Computers in Homes), Chris Worsley (Principal at one of our Computers in Homes schools, Pomare School in Lower Hutt) and Laurence Zwimpfer (Contracts Director for 2020 Trust) also made an oral submission to the Select Committee. Chris pointed out to the Committee that he had seen a huge jump in the level of engagement by parents at his school as a direct result of Computers in Homes.

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Submission to Select Committee

Inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children

Submitted on behalf of the 2020 Communications Trust on 19 December 2013

We would like to bring to the attention of the Select Committee one of the Trust’s programmes, Computers in Homes. This Government-supported programme, which has now been operating for 13 years, has a proud record of achievement in terms of helping parents engage with and support their children’s learning.

The programme provides training for families (mainly parents and grandparents) in using computers and the internet so that they can help with their children’s learning. Parents receive 20 hours of training, a refurbished computer, a subsidised internet connection and ongoing technical support for 12 months. Since the year 2000, over 10,000 families have benefitted from the programme, but the 2013 Census indicates there are still over 62,000 households with school-aged children that do not have internet access in their homes. We estimate that this affects over 200,000 children.

As schools move rapidly towards new 21st Century learning environments where it is expected that all students have online access 24/7, it is not acceptable that 25% of all students are disadvantaged without digital access in their homes or equally important, do not receive support from their parents because of their lack of digital skills.

Our programme is delivered mainly through schools with parents attending classes at the school. Principals frequently comment that the most valuable aspect of the programme for them is that it engages parents with the school and with their children’s learning. This engagement continues after the Computers in Homes training sessions with parents being much more willing to participate in school activities and support their children.

Programme participants also comment that the programme builds their confidence and helps them move on to tertiary studies or secure a job. For many families, completing the 20-hour Computers in Homes course and receiving a certificate is the first recognition of achievement that the parents have ever received. This creates a huge boost in confidence that not only helps parents enhance their own lives but also engage with more confidence in supporting their children’s learning.

The Census also revealed huge geographic inequities. In Kawerau district 43% of all households with school-aged children do not have internet access compared to the national average of 15%, or just 4% in the Selwyn district. Not surprisingly the most digitally disconnected districts include the lowest socio-economic communities with large Maori and Pasifika populations.

We believe this should be a government priority to bridge this learning divide. Computers in Homes currently receives government support for 1500 families each year; we think this needs to be scaled up to at least 5000 per year.

We would be happy to share recent reports on the programme with the Committee as well as more information on the results we are achieving.