This morning I attended the Ministry of Education’s Learning Without Limits seminar in Christchurch. Around 100 principals, teachers, BOT members and other interested parties came to hear Douglas Harre and Marg McLeod from the Ministry of Education share an update on the progress being made towards the government’s plan for ultra-fast broadband in schools. The basis of the vision is:
- 97% NZ schools (99.7% of students) will have access to UFB (100megabits/second) by 2016
- 3% remote schools will have access to fast broadband (10Mbps) by other means eg.satellite or point-to-point wireless
- Crown Fibre Holdings (CFH) and Local Fibre Companies (LFCs) are connecting urban schools, MED and rural broadband providers are connecting rural schools.
- $150 million investment signalled to prepare schools for the rollout
- $1.5 billion investment overall
A key part of what the Ministry of Education is doing is through the Schools Network Upgrade Project (SNUP) which aims to make schools fibre ready over six years. Key points about the SNUP programme are:
- Provides subsidised upgrades to internal data and electrical cabling infrastructure
- 473 schools have been upgraded since 2006 ($18m)
- 100 more schools underway ($22m)
- 80 % costs for state /68% for state integrated funded by MoE
- Further 239 announced by Minister to start in Sept/Oct ($48m)
- By end of 2011 approx 1/3 of schools will have been upgraded
The presentation also canvased activity in the area of laptops for teachers, capability building and resource provision before providing an update on the development of the proposal for a National Education Network (NEN) across the country. Not a lot of detail on this as it seems that there’s still a lot to sort out – but the NEN trial is currently going ahead with an extended trial of up to 200 schools until June 2011.
All in all a useful meeting – the first of a series that will be held throughout New Zealand. I’m a fan of open information sharing, and the more we can have of this sort of thing the better – providing an opportunity for people hear details directly from those working in the area, and also to have the opportunity to ask questions and seek clarifications in an open forum.