Forty rural schools get free satellite broadband connection

Kaiako/tuamki (principal) Reno Skipper of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngaringaomatariki, a remote school northwest of Wellsford, describes the free Starlink satellite connection received via the Ministry of Education’s Satellite for Schools programme as being “life changing” for teachers and students.

“Even in the space of two months, it’s made a huge difference to how we’ve been able to teach,” he says. “We’ve purchased subscriptions to maths programmes that we couldn’t use before. We’re able to share the stories of the work that our kids are doing live, through parents logging in remotely.”

He says it’s helped to facilitate a more supportive and engaging learning environment. And the students have become far more engaged. “Now they’re able to take ownership of their learning, so that’s exciting for us.”

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngaringaomatariki is one of a number of rural schools that has suffered from poor internet connectivity over the years due to location and challenging weather conditions. “We couldn’t even do our daily online roll,” Reno says.

The Satellite for Schools programme was commissioned by the Ministry of Education to help remedy this situation.

Crown agency Network for Learning (N4L) and Starlink reseller 2degrees are implementing the programme, offering schools free Starlink satellite broadband connections. The schools receive Starlink business-grade connections that provide faster performance (up to 350 megabits per second, or faster than most fibre connections) and more resilient reception during bad weather.

The programme kicked off in July 2023 with the connection of Okains Bay School, on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula. Since then, over 30 schools across the country have been connected, with more scheduled for connection soon.

As initiatives such as Satellite for Schools improves connectivity across the country, there may be a need for organisations, businesses and homeowners to upgrade their cabling to ensure they enjoy maximum benefit from that connectivity.


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