“Closing the digital divide for all students is the only way to ensure equity of educational opportunities for all of our children, irrespective of ethnic background, socio-demographic status or location.”

Among other equity issues, the COVID-19 lockdown highlighted the importance of addressing the digital divide for children and young people. This means that students without a suitable device and/or internet connectivity were disadvantaged as they could not connect to their teachers, classes, or access the learning material being made available to them. While efforts were made to provide these students with physical resources in the mail to allow them to learn, inequalities in learning and digital access were put under the spotlight. 

Once New Zealand transitioned out of lockdown, and ākonga were back in face-to-face learning, Greater Canterbury Schools’ Network (GCSN) conducted a survey to investigate students, staff and whānau experiences with learning online during COVID-19 levels 3 and 4. 

10 recommendations were made based on the information in the report and reflect the data and specific contexts of remote learning under lockdown for schools in the Canterbury region:

  1. Focus collective efforts toward equipping schools digitally
  2. Engage with charities/funding bodies/government to secure resources
  3. Establish initiatives to close the digital divide for the few students still lacking access to a device and/or Internet
  4. Formalise plans for remote learning
  5. Engage more with online learning tools
  6. PLD for teaching staff 
  7. Create or review policies
  8. Stronger focus on independence and agency
  9. Recognition of adults and children supporting students 
  10. Enhance online communities

To read the full report, Closing the Digital Divide during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Student, Whānau and Staff Perspectives, click here.

Related story: Digital Learning 2025 – Dr Cheryl Doig