Satellite for Schools transforming digital learning in Aotearoa’s most remote locations

Connection to faster, more reliable internet through cutting-edge satellite technology is transforming digital learning at Aotearoa New Zealand’s most remote schools and kura. Network for Learning (N4L) has partnered with 2degrees to deliver the Satellite for Schools programme, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Education.

Satellite for Schools is a programme that connects eligible schools and kura that have had challenges with poor internet connection to the internet via satellite technology. Satellite for Schools provides fast, reliable internet and, ultimately, better access to digital learning.

Schools also have access to fully managed, fully funded, safety and cybersecurity support from N4L’s expert team, as part of N4L’s Managed Network. From filtering, firewalls and DDoS protection to email security and segmented networks, N4L can help keep schools, staff and ākonga safer and more secure online.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāringaomatariki, a remote coastal kura approximately 30 minutes northwest of Wellsford in Northland, had struggled with poor internet connection and limited digital learning opportunities for some time due to their location, unpredictable local weather and poor local coverage from communication towers.

“We’ve had major issues with our internet for a number of years,” says the kura tumuaki / kaiako, Reno Skipper. “On many occasions, we weren’t even able to mark the morning roll, or we might have only been able to have one or two computers on in a classroom at the same time. The staff were teaching and trying to bring in different ideas and different resources, but they couldn’t be accessed because of poor internet connectivity. It really limited our ability to teach the kids.” The kura received a satellite dish and improved internet connection in July, an event Mr Skipper describes as “life-changing”. Satellite for Schools has helped facilitate a more supportive and engaging learning environment for the kura, making a huge difference and improvement to their learning.

“We’re now able to use the technology to its full extent,” explains Mr Skipper. “We’ve purchased subscriptions to maths programmes that we previously weren’t able to use. Even in the space of a month, it’s made a huge difference to how we teach, and there’s been noticeable improvement in the engagement of the kids. They’re now able to take full ownership of their own learning.“

In July, the programme kicked off with connection of the first school - Okains Bay School on the Banks Peninsula in the Christchurch region. Since then, more than 30 more schools across the North and South Islands have been connected, with another handful of schools scheduled for connection soon.

N4L CEO, Larrie Moore, says: “All ākonga, no matter where they are, or what school they attend, should have access to safer and more reliable internet. This is critical for ensuring young people across Aotearoa have equitable opportunities for learning, so they can reach their full potential. This is not only a right, but an enabler for educational success. That’s why we’re doing the hard mahi on the Satellite for Schools programme.”

Emma-Kate Greer, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, 2degrees, says: “2degrees is proud to partner on the Satellite for Schools programme. Satellite for Schools is a fantastic initiative that’s enabling schools and kura in remote areas to have what many of us take for granted every day.”

Stuart Wakefield, Chief Digital Officer, Ministry of Education, says: “No matter where schools are located, they are now able to access faster, more reliable internet to better drive digital learning in the classroom. The Ministry of Education is delighted to be involved in Satellite for Schools. A high-quality internet connection is essential for all schools, and the Ministry is committed to supporting better learning opportunities for ākonga.”

Posted on