15 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Māori education providers tackle students' internet connectivity

12:13 pm on 15 April 2020

Internet access remains one of the biggest hurdles for distance learning among tamariki at kura kaupapa and Māori medium schools.

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Thousands of students will start learning at home from today, and many kura have either reached out to the government for support or have come up with innovative ways to ensure their tamariki do not miss out.

An abundance of Māori learning content can now be accessed on the Ministry of Education's new online space, Ki Te Ao Mārama.

Te Rangi Āniwaniwa principal Delanie Parangi said that would not help some of her students who had no access to the internet.

"Those students who don't have access to the internet and only have mobile data, we've been trying to work out a way forward for them. That's mainly due to their location, they are mainly in rural areas, living out in the bush, so connectivity is a bit of an issue," she said.

"At the moment it's just sending them hard copies of all the mahi and if they need to contact staff or their child's kaiako it's been through text messaging or phone calls."

The Māori medium school in Kaitaia acted quickly when Covid-19 arrived in New Zealand, providing laptops to all its students in Years 6 to 13 three days before the lockdown.

Parangi said she was thankful most of them now knew what to expect over the next two weeks.

"It's certainly different, they're enjoying the different. They're enjoying the different interaction online via Google hang-outs and Zoom," she said.

"Most whānau are really productive and they like the idea. We are lucky to have a lot of young ones in our staff so we're all supporting each other and giving each other ideas on how we can present and deliver online."

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Te Runanga nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori chief executive Hohepa Campbell said access to the internet and computers was a challenge kura were facing across the board.

He said kaiako were working extremely hard and coming up with innovative ways to teach from a distance.

"They're using a range of technology platforms to support tamariki in their learning," he said.

"It goes down to Facebook, some are using Google Classrooms, and some are sending out individual kainga packs. Teachers over the years in kura across the country have been participating in digital technology to some extent and this has helped prepare them."

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Wairarapa told RNZ the Ministry of Education had helped it provide 20 laptops to students in need, which would be delivered to their homes today.

Māori Television will also play a key role in ensuring tamariki Māori can learn from home with its new educational programme Mauri Reo, Mauri Ora presented by kaiako and te reo Māori experts Monday to Friday, six hours a day.

The government is also providing free learning packs with te reo Māori resources to support lessons at home.

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