REAP - Digital inclusion project
CIARA ARNOT COMMUNITY ADVISOR •
REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme) is a lifelong learning not-for-profit that delivers a variety of educational and family support programmes. They work to redress the disadvantages experienced by people in rural areas in accessing the range and depth of activities and services enjoyed by their urban counterparts.
REAP Central Plateau is one of 13 REAPs in New Zealand, and began operating in 1980. They have an extensive record in supporting adult learners through intensive literacy and numeracy programmes, including digital literacy.
Over the years, REAP have observed growing issues stemming from the lack of Internet connectivity, skills and confidence. Pandemic related lockdowns further intensified existing inequities.
In a recent initiative funded by InternetNZ, the team at REAP Central Plateau have worked to address urgent needs of learners to gain tools, knowledge and confidence to connect. They helped to address barriers to connectivity by teaming up with an experienced information technology company KiwiCloud IT Ltd, who sourced and set up the devices to suit each user and trouble-shoot connectivity issues experienced at the household level.
Through this mahi, participants had support to sign up with Skinny Jump to access internet connectivity where needed, as well as being provided with laptops. On successful completion of the programme, participants could take ownership of their laptop. Teachers found that a flexible approach was required to ensure engagement which could mean anything from offering transport, to one on one support or flexible tutor hours. Most learners developed skills and confidence not only to navigate online, but to unlock a world of potential. As a result, many were keen to share the knowledge with their whanau, to complete NCEA, pursue tertiary study or vocational training.
This programme has been met with appreciation from the community. People were supported to make the most of the online world so they could better themselves and support their whānau. Participants of this initiative have increased their digital capability and confidence. Some comments from learners who went through the programme:
“I feel very honoured to have this laptop as an addition to my class courses, to take it home and work on it at leisure instead of watching TV. My knowledge has tripled. It will enable me to learn more, explore more and do more for my grandchildren. And I can help them by searching the web.”
“I love that I could earn it by doing a class, not just be given it.”
“I have learnt so much in a short time. I am glad too that I could do some work to get the laptop.”
“I can keep up with the mokopuna now- and maybe teach them something.“
“It was not just about getting a laptop- it was about meeting other people. I am lonely and I enjoyed being in class with others. Now I am going to come back and learn at REAP in 2022.”
Each year InternetNZ uses profits from the sale of .nz domain names to give out community funding. They provide funding for community-led initiatives that extend the availability, use, and benefit of the Internet in Aotearoa.
This initiative was the recipient of funding in 2020. View the final report from this project.