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Report: Closing the Digital Divide during the COVID-19 Lockdown

As New Zealand moved into its first countrywide lockdown due to COVID-19, schools moved quickly to provide an online learning environment for ākonga and teaching space for kaiako.

This quickly brought to the fore the digital divide that exists for students and whānau, some of whom experience limited or no access to digital devices or the internet outside of school hours.

Once New Zealand transitioned out of lockdown, and ākonga were back in face-to-face learning, GCSN conducted a survey to investigate students, staff and whānau experiences with learning online during COVID-19 levels 3 and 4.

In total, 3,105 Canterbury primary and secondary school-aged students, their parents and whānau, and school staff responded to the survey, providing GCSN with knowledge on how students found learning from home. The report covers the key findings in; accessibility, Internet usage, support for remote learning and positives and negatives of the online learning experience.

To read the full report, Closing the Digital Divide during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Student, Whānau and Staff Perspectives, click here.

Dr Gabrielle Wall, General Manager of GCSN, states that “This was a huge learning curve for everyone, but what it highlights is that students on average liked being able to learn via digital tools. The challenge is to make sure that all students have equal access to digital tools and connectivity.”

Steve Wakefield, Chairman of GCSN, says the key is to bridge the divide between school-aged students in terms of access to the internet and suitable devices.“An example of this is our ConnectED Aranui project which provided free educational Wi-Fi to an area of Aranui in Christchurch which is one of the most internet deprived areas of New Zealand, in partnership with Chorus, Network 4 Learning and the Ministry of Education.”

“Closing the digital divide for all students is the only way to ensure equity of educational opportunities for all of our children, irrespective of ethnic background, socio-demographic status or location.”

If you would like support in helping bridge the digital divide in your area, or would like to know more about ConnectED Aranui, please contact the GCSN team.

The GCSN Team


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