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Redesign laptops to reduce digital inequality


A new initiative in Auckland schools will extract used laptops and desktops from businesses and households and donate them to students.

The program will also teach students over the age of eight how to diagnose, disassemble and restore laptop components to devices with “like new” operational capabilities. They can then share these devices with others in their communities.

Statistics show that up to 150,000 school-age children in New Zealand do not have access to the internet at home. Government research also suggests Maori, Pacific and those living in social housing or with disabilities are the most disadvantaged in the field of digital technology.

The West Tech project is a partnership between the Auckland Council Innovation Unit, The Western Initiative, and the Zeal Youth Development Charity. Funding is provided by the hospitality group The Trusts. A parallel program with local libraries will also increase internet access in youth homes.

Chris Winder, a Zeal spokesman, said the pilot program, conducted at the partner primary school, found that participating students noted an increased level of self-confidence. He said their study also found that students face additional barriers to home learning – those who received devices during the lockout often had no one at home to support them in using the technology.

“According to research conducted by our partner schools, as many as 27% are aconga [students] without an internet connection during the first block, ”Winder said.

“A third (33%) of these students did not have access to the learning device, and more than half (59%) of those who used the devices used it with siblings. A quarter (24%) used their parents’ phones. “

Winder said that in just seven hours of study a student can get the opportunity to recover a broken device.

He said laptops and PCs tend to slow down over time, becoming bloated due to software and poorly managed file storage. They may also encounter common errors that lead to computer failure.

“At this point, most devices will be considered redundant for many businesses that will seek to upgrade a new product.

“In this case, the devices usually somehow end up in the waste stream; however, most of them can be restored to their original condition or disassembled into parts that can be saved. “

According to the industry, only about 2% of New Zealand’s 80,000 tonnes of e-waste is recycled each year. The project aims to recycle more than 1,000 devices next year, eventually increasing it to meet an estimated 20,000 devices a year – equivalent to removing 80 cars a year and preventing up to 460 tonnes of e-waste. . landfill.

Recycled computers – most of which would otherwise end up in the waste stream – could also be made available to families and student communities who have completed the program to help reduce barriers to accessing technology.

Winder said they are looking to further expand the program – by providing more advanced components such as graphics cards that could attract more students to careers in graphic or game design.


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