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​Govt pledges $1 million for digital technology projects

Education and digital technologies providers who have ideas for engaging projects will be able to bid for $1 million.

Education and digital technologies providers who have ideas for engaging projects will be able to bid for $1 million, after Education Minister Hekia Parata announced that a new Request for Proposal has opened.

This announcement is part of a broader package of curriculum support for schools after the Government’s decision last month to explicitly strengthen digital technologies in the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

“We want to fund providers who can hit the ground running with ideas that will match teachers’ and students’ enthusiasm and imagination, and boost their engagement with digital technologies,” Parata says.

“Digital fluency is the universal language of the 21st century. To be successful and get the jobs they want, Kiwi kids will need to be confident using a broad range of digital technologies in a variety of settings.

“Our Government’s aim is to strengthen digital technology teaching and learning in schools, and we are looking for partners to work with us to support schools to fully embrace this change.”

Industry association NZTech has backed the move, with CEO Graeme Muller citing the announcement “a positive sign” from the minister.

“One of the concerns of the tech sector was that the education system would move too slow, however this is a very clear message from the government that there is urgency, and that they are willing to start investing in helping the education system prepare for the introduction of digital technology,” Muller adds.

“A phased approach is a sensible option as there is no silver bullet. It will take some time to develop some robust national curricula for digital technologies, ensure teachers have the professional development to deliver a new curricula and the teaching resources to deliver it well.

“Digital skills are critical for our kids’ abilities to lead a productive working life.

"Additionally, with the tech sector growth accelerating at 7.5% per annum, our economy will also succeed or fail on our ability to produce tech savvy kids.”

While $1 million dollars won't change the entire system, Muller believes it will provide the opportunity for new innovative partnerships between schools and tech savvy providers.

“It hopefully also sends a strong message to school boards and leaders that this is serious and all schools should be demanding support,” he adds.

Parata says the Request For Proposal is now open and will close on August 31.