Our partners Recycle a Device are taking action, learn how!
A while back we talked about NZ Compare’s partnership with RAD but today we want to tell you more about the digital divide and what RAD, DFA and others are doing to bridge it, including some info on how you can help to increase kiwi access to digital skills and access!
What is the digital divide?
For society to function as well as possible, digital inclusion - everyone having access to digital devices and the internet, and the skills to use them to participate in their community as well as democracy and the economy - is essential. A lack of digital inclusion is known as the digital divide, or digital inequity. At the moment, not every New Zealander has the cellphone, laptop or other equipment they need and at least 20% of New Zealanders "lack the digital skills deemed essential for modern life."
Although the digital divide has existed for a long time, Covid-19 lockdowns and social restrictions brought this issue into the light and made it clear how much of an impact unequal access is having in New Zealand. It’s pretty difficult to learn, work and socialise remotely when you don’t have the tools and skills you need!
While 1 in 5 kiwis are excluded or left behind because of the digital divide, some groups are more affected than others. Multiple research projects and studies have shown that rangatahi, Māori, Pasifika, and other people who face social inequities are impacted most by the digital divide.
Why does it matter?
Without a fit for purpose device and the skills to use it, people aren’t able to participate in society and live their lives to their fullest potential. The digital divide acts as a barrier to accessing education, training, support and resources.
Bridging the digital divide allows for participation within the community, connection with friends and family, expression of cultural identity, and the ability to learn, create, share new ideas, and access job opportunities and goods and services.
Sounds scary! How can the digital divide be fixed?
There are so many awesome groups working in Aotearoa to bridge the digital divide. Different groups might work towards helping different groups of people or decreasing different aspects of the digital divide (by providing internet access, rural fibre, or skills training), but they all have the same goal of increasing equity.
This shared goal and the shared effort needed to get there is why collaboration is so important in the work towards digital inclusion! Digital Boost, DECA, Spark Foundation, DFA, Curious Minds, SeniorNet and so many more are out there working towards these goals, goals NZ Compare like to support as a digital company ourselves.We want to tell you a bit more about one of these groups, DFA.
What is DFA?
DFA stands for Digital Future Aotearoa. Digital Future Aotearoa builds the digital capability of Aotearoa by delivering relevant and inspiring digital technology education and access to tamariki, rangatahi, ākonga (students) and kaiako (teachers) both in and out of the classroom.
DFA runs Code Club Aotearoa - a free, volunteer-led coding club network for kiwi kids aged 7-13. Over 400 clubs across the motu have 1900+ volunteers helping 5,000 tamariki learn to code, problem solve and work together on authentically Aotearoa projects every week! Sparking an interest and positive relationship to technology, and moving from being consumers to creators of technology, lets Code Clubbers participate and thrive.
DFA also runs programmes to work with and teach both kaiako and ākonga, strengthening teaching practice and upskilling to support ākonga in being able to succeed. When a kaiako encounters and encourages tamariki coding in a practical context, it helps demystify the language and work for everyone involved.
Here are some of the awesome things people are saying about Code Club:
"I see independence and collaboration between students regardless of age or gender.
Playground behaviour has improved on the days Code Club is run."
"I love seeing the enthusiasm of the children…some kids are so into coding that as soon as they get on their computer they tell their parents to leave!"
What is RAD?
RAD is a DFA programme that tackles multiple significant societal issues - lack of tech skills, lack of tech access, and unnecessary e-waste. RAD reduces e-waste by tracking down donations of unwanted laptops and tablets and diverting them from landfill or e-recycling. RAD then teaches community members to diagnose and repair these devices. These refurbished fit-for-purpose devices are then gifted to rangatahi who need them for employment, education, and general participation in society.
RAD works nationwide to reduce e-waste, increase access to high quality digital technology education and provide tools to allow community members to participate fully in society, and so far they have had great results! Feedback includes:
"The laptop has made learning easier. It is handy and convenient"
"It has been a life saving change for me"
"I can prepare for and organise my life and that makes me excited because my dreams feel more achievable"
How do RAD and DFA bridge the digital divide?
RAD has upskilled 20 groups of rangatahi in device refurbishment, had 1100 laptops through our system. and gifted over 600 laptops this year alone. There are 16 schools and 3 community groups refurbishing laptops all over the motu, from Orewa to Methven and everywhere in between.
With 457 active clubs, 5000+ participating tamariki, over 1900 volunteers and a $1:$4:80 social return on investment, Code Club has impressive stats, but the personal stories are, to us, just as interesting. Some Code Clubbers have gone on to become volunteers, start their own Code Club, or pursue tertiary education in STEM, all sparked by being part of the DFA whānau at a young age.
The digital divide can’t be fixed just by passing on skills, increasing access, sparking motivation or providing trust. All 4 of these things are important and DFA believes that engaging and empowering digital technology education and access will see every child in Aotearoa grow up with the opportunity to participate and make a meaningful difference in their community.
What can you do to help bridge the digital divide?
The digital divide is deep but there are things you can do to bring digital inclusion! If you have an old laptop lying around that you no longer need, why not donate it to RAD? Better yet, organise a laptop collection at your workplace or with your family and friends. And Code Club is always looking for new volunteer tutors - no coding experience required!
If you can’t volunteer or don’t have a device to donate, never fear, supporting DFA can be as easy as spreading the word about the awesome work they do, following them on social media or donating a few dollars a month.
You can also check out some of the other groups listed above and track down your local community groups and organisations working towards bridging the digital divide to see how you can support them and how they can support you.
What do I need to do next to support RAD?
First – contact them on email@example.com or complete this form
Next – go give them a like on Facebook