Today Spark and Web Access Waikato Trust has announced that subsidised broadband is now available in Waikato through local school Whitiora School and not-for-profit organisations Te Kauwhata Community House and Te Whare Kokonga so more students can keep up with the digital skills necessary for today.
As classroom learning goes digital, students without broadband at home are at risk of being left behind. Spark Jump enables more school-aged children to go online outside of classroom hours and get on the right side of the Digital Divide. Families with school-aged children and no current broadband connection are eligible for the programme. They will receive a modem and a wireless broadband connection and pay $15 for 30GB with no fixed term contract. As a pre-pay service, the modem can be topped up at any time in the same way as pre-pay mobile phones.
Spark Foundation works with community-based organisations like Web Access Waikato to deliver wireless broadband to families without internet. As well as reaching out to families directly, Web Access Waikato engages schools and smaller trusts in the district to select families for the programme based on the eligibility criteria set by the Spark Foundation and the intent to support education.
Whitiora School, Te Kauwhata Community House and Te Whare Kokonga will help families set up and manage their internet connections. Interested families should contact Te Kauwhata Community House when the Spark Jump sessions are being held or Whitiora School if their children attend.
Shane Hobson Chair of Web Access Waikato says Spark Jump will help close the skills gap between families who can afford home broadband and those who can't.
"Access to the internet is really important to get our children better placed to do amazing things in school and later in life. We know that for some families home broadband is not affordable and Spark Jump will help more children in Waikato participate in the digital world," says Hobson.
General Manager of Spark Foundation Lynne Le Gros is pleased the partnership with Web Access Waikato is expanding the reach of Spark Jump to reach more families at risk of being digitally excluded.
“We’re pleased to serve communities around the country with a truly useful product like subsidised broadband. We're excited to see Spark Jump turn more homes in Waikato into digital learning environments and enable more students to thrive in the digital world,” says Ms. Le Gros.
Notes to the editor:
- According to the 2013 NZ Census, there were 62,000 households with school-aged children which said they did not have home broadband (or which did not specify whether they had broadband).
- Web Access Waikato has been one of the first partners to come on board Spark Jump and is currently working with several local organisations to distribute the programme.
- Spark Foundation has partnered with several other organisations working in a number of local communities around New Zealand including 20/20 Trust, The Greater Christchurch Schools Network, Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru in Rotorua, DIGITS in Palmerston North and a school cluster in Napier.
- Spark Jump uses the Skinny Broadband platform and provides wireless home broadband via a 4G mobile signal connecting with the nearest cell tower. Families are gifted a modem to use with the support from technology partner Huawei.
- Families with school-aged children who do not currently have a broadband connection at home and have suitable 4G coverage are eligible for the programme.