by Divina Paredes

Wireless internet in NZ schools gets massive upgrade

Jan 22, 2020
Cloud ComputingIT Leadership

"Internet connections in schools can be vulnerable because of their location or difficulties finding the right IT support," says education minister Chris Hipkins

hands holding connectivity ball with white background
Credit: Thinkstock

The government has started a massive IT upgrade to provide more seamless internet access to 200 schools around the country.

Te Mana Tūhono – Technology in Schools work programme will launch with a pilot of 10 smaller state schools early this year. 

The government aims to roll out the programme to the other 190 schools by the end of June 2020. 

These will be schools with limited access to IT support, and with aging network hardware that is coming out of extended warranty. The remaining schools will be upgraded over the following four years.

From February, crown company N4L says it will begin replacing more than 12,000 switches and 38,000 wireless access points across New Zealand’s 2450-plus schools. 

N4L will extend its helpdesk services to inside schools so there is a single point of contact for all internet access issues.

“With schools becoming more reliant on the internet to deliver the curriculum, we need to ensure that all schools have access to high-speed internet that’s reliable, resilient, safe and secure,” says education minister Chris Hipkins.

“Internet connections in schools can be vulnerable because of their location or difficulties finding the right IT support.”

Hipkins says often, schools find it more difficult finding the expertise they need to maintain reliable, high speed connections.

“Principals and boards of trustees of these schools can now be confident they have access to the support and tools for their students to thrive.” 

Kim Shannon, head of infrastructure services at the Ministry of Education, says Te Mana Tūhono was designed to remove the burden on schools to monitor, maintain and manage the internet inside their classrooms.

n4l ceo larrie moore rata st school

N4L CEO Larrie Moore at Rata St School

Craig McDonald-Brown, principal of Awakeri School, a rural full primary school 12 kilometers southwest of Whakatane, is looking forward to being part of the Te Mana Tūhono programme.

“It means we’ll be able to spend more time focusing on our students’ learning without having to worry about managing and maintaining the technology.”

“We live in a connected world, and there are great learning opportunities available through the internet,” says McDonald-Brown.

“At the moment our wireless infrastructure doesn’t support us accessing what it has to offer. It’s really disruptive to our learning when it stops working, and is frustrating to both teachers and students.”

N4L CEO Larrie Moore says, “We recognise that IT knowledge and skills vary among schools, and there is a need for safe and seamless internet access inside classrooms so they can have a better online learning experience.

“Simply put, they need to be able to trust their internet where and when it’s needed so they can get on with great teaching and learning.”