The latest link in improving computing infrastructure for schools is a local area networking project to bridge the gap between the Project PROBE connection and the PC suite for small schools who have struggled financially to cover that last 100 metres.
$11 million of government funding will go towards equipping 300 schools with cabling, a 24-port ethernet switch from Allied Telesyn and an Acer server, running a customised version of Suse Linux and supplied by Smart Computer Systems, of Christchurch.
A survey conducted last year showed that small schools are most likely to have no networking. A prioritised list of schools has been drafted, but if any of those decline the offer, schools further down the list will be invited to take advantage of the funding.
Financial assistance will be made available on a 4-to-1 basis (the Ministry meeting 80% of the cost and school and community the other 20%) for “very small” schools, with a roll of less than 77; for those between 78 and 178, the subsidy will be 3-to-1.
Education Minister Trevor Mallard kicked off the scheme last week at Strathmore Community School in Wellington, with a roll of 75, which has already had its network installed. Mallard says he will be watching with interest the application of networking to remote learning for rural schools such as Northland’s Te Hapua school, which will be able to provide lessons for its students from teachers at Kaitaia College.