Digital equity means every person has equal access to and understanding of digital technologies. No matter your ethnicity, background, location, or gender, every person deserves to have easy and affordable access to digital education, tools, and the internet.
Within South Auckland, there are a growing number of organisations that work toward increasing digital equity for their communities. Their kaupapa and initiatives are for the community, by the community, and seek to provide effective solutions that address the barriers preventing digital equity in their spaces.
These organisations reflect the values and needs of their communities through their kaupapa and use their experience and expertise to develop initiatives and programmes that provide tailored support. Over the past year, we have supported a number of kaupapa seeking to empower and uplift communities through digital programmes and are excited for the future of what’s to come in this space.
Kootuitui ki Papakura & Manaiakalani Education Trust
Incorporated in October 2015, Kootuitui ki Papakura provides wraparound support of tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau to impact the inequitable circumstances preventing youth from living their best lives during and after their education journey. Kootuitui ki Papakura have three strands; health, education, and whānau, tailored to address areas where extra support is required.
Manaiakalani Education Trust was formed in 2011 with the intention of increasing the positive educational outcomes of 3,000 Māori and Pacific children from low decile schools across Glen Innes and Point England. Today, the Trust is the longest continuous low decile learner education research model in the history of Aotearoa.
The global pandemic had a large impact on the educational experiences of tamariki and rangatahi. Manaiakalani and Kootuitui ki Papakura recognised the statistics surrounding rangatahi education outcomes in the areas they serve were disproportionate in comparison with high decile schools and areas. Access to equipment prevents many students from achieving at their highest standards, with ongoing impact. To address this, Manaiakalani and Kootuitui collaborated on an initiative under Kootuitui’s education strand to provide Chromebooks to students at cost. Creating greater access to digital equipment for rangatahi and tamariki provides students with learning tools that will enable them to engage with their education in ways they may not have been able to previously.
The education strand doesn’t end with students. Kootuitui ki Papakura also employ a senior teacher to work with educators to upskill them with the use of tech in the classroom. This allows students to engage in high-quality, relevant education that provides a pathway into both tertiary and vocational opportunities. The education strand supports six schools within Papakura, resourcing students from primary age through to high school.
Over 3,400 Chromebooks have now been successfully purchased and distributed to local students. Positive numeracy and literacy outcomes for primary and high school students have increased in comparison to other low decile schools pre-COVID. One high school saw a 37% increase in students receiving their NCEA level 2 qualifications.
Fibre Fale is a Pacific-led social enterprise driven by their vision of increasing the number of Pacific people in Aotearoa’s tech industry for equal representation by 2042.
The Fibre Fale kaupapa uses three strands – model, deliver, and advocate – across various platforms and both physical and digital engagements to create better access for Pacific people to engage in careers within the tech industry. Using these strands, the Fibre Fale team create and deliver culturally informed programmes and pathways to create space for Pacific people to explore different aspects of the tech industry and create a community of like-minds to share and connect.
As Pacific leaders, Julia Arnott-Neenee and Eteroa Lafaele co-founded Fibre Fale after realising the severe need for representation and pathways within the tech industry in Aotearoa. The pair sought to create a social enterprise that actively engages Pacific people with digital education, communities, and opportunities.
“As Pacific women both working in tech, we saw first-hand how we were part of a very small handful of Pacific people in the industry. Once we met, a spark ignited further for us and we knew we had to be, do and tell the change we wanted to see.”
"You can’t be what you can’t see," – and with Pacific people making up just 4.4% of the tech industry, Fibre Fale’s strand, model, is an effective way of showing Pacific people that they too can be a part of the industry. Tech Voyagers and Our Stories are two digital series created by Fibre Fale to tell the stories of Pacific people working in tech, and their journey through the industry. These stories and images are powerful tools that show viewers the various ways Pacific people have been able to journey through the industry, creating a space where Pacific cultural values and beliefs aren’t barriers to tech success – they’re an asset.
Pacific youth in Aotearoa often walk in two worlds. The Fibre Fale team use their skills to create spaces for users to explore the world of tech without feeling like one world needs to be sacrificed to be included.
Cybernesia is a digital village created by Fibre Fale for Pacific people to talanoa, be inspired, and draw knowledge from their peers. The platform is free to use and is a safe space for sharing and empowerment – creating a supportive community that truly understands the different influences that impact Pacific people as they journey through tech.
As a community-led social enterprise, Fibre Fale’s understanding of their community’s needs and values, combined with their experience in the tech industry enables the team to create culturally informed programmes and pathways that truly represent the community they serve. With over 2,038 people attending Fibre Fale events in 2023, the community response often acknowledges how Fibre Fale offerings are filling a major gap for learners.
“We recognised effective solutions are community-led; we are solution holders.”
Officially launched in 2020 at the Auckland South Correctional Facility, the Take2 kaupapa works to support and grow justice-impacted individuals’ digital and professional skills in preparation for a career in the tech industry upon release.
The Take2 kaupapa engages participants in educational pathways that open the door to positive career outcomes and helps ease the transition into work for previously incarcerated men. In their own words, Take2 is bringing social justice to software.
The tech industry holds a world of opportunity, and Cameron Smith, CEO and founder of Take2, noticed there were considerable opportunities for more tech talent to come out of Aotearoa. Understanding this gap and seeing how greatly a criminal conviction can impact the success or failure of jobseekers, Cameron knew there was an opportunity to mahi toward better outcomes across both areas.
Ignite is the Take2 educational programme that takes place at Auckland South Correctional Facility. Participants receive a nine-month programme that builds digital tech skills, with a further two years of support to facilitate a career pathway in the industry. Ignite graduates are confident in their digital tech skills and have gone on to land jobs with prominent companies in Aotearoa.
In its early phases of offering, Cameron realised that, while the programme was working well, there was still space to provide more support. So came the vision of a Community Hub where recently released graduates can continue their learning, expand on their opportunities and continue to engage with the kaupapa.
“We had seen that participants could be released from prison before completing their training. We supported this, however, it became difficult for these participants to continue their training in the community. Hence, a community classroom offering would provide the perfect environment for participants to complete their training with the structure and support of Take2.”
Moreover, Take2 saw their next opportunity to provide support, launching the social enterprise, Elevate, with the goal of creating more direct job opportunities for programme graduates. If successful, the social enterprise will create opportunities for paid apprenticeships for graduates who aren’t quite ready to enter the industry but still want to build on their skills and experience. This addition will provide a more streamlined journey into a new life within the tech industry.
“Take2 really feels like a second chance at life and has been a healing experience for me. I feel happy, confident, and can see a bright and better future for myself and my family.”
Participants have gone on to accomplish amazing things, with some landing jobs at major tech service providers in Aotearoa or going on to create their own social enterprise. Graduates have landed competitive job roles and mention how great it feels to provide their family with a more stable life.
Take2 receive support from multiple organisations within New Zealand, including Datacom, Spark, RUSH, and Xero. Many programme graduates have entered full-time positions within some of these companies.