The government is to spend $10.4 million over the next four years on pilot projects designed to lift the level of IT skills in schools and the community.
It has signed a "digital opportunities protocol" with 15 companies in the IT sector -- including Compaq, Microsoft, Telecom, Clear, IBM and Advantage Group -- as a "record of their commitment to work together" to help the country capitalise on the benefits of IT. The partner companies will provide equipment and services at reduced rates, says Education Minister Trevor Mallard.
Prime Minister Helen Clark says the projects are the culmination of six months of meetings between the government ministers and IT company bosses.
"We have a shared vision of New Zealand as an innovative nation leading the world using modern technology," Clark says.
A notable absentee from the list of signatories to the protocol is networking company Cisco, which is active in supporting IT training through provision of training materials and equipment. Last month it launched a "networking academy" on the East Cape in partnership with Maori and Pacific Island groups.
The four pilot projects, which span from the Far North to Southland, will begin to reach selected schools in April.