• Jenny Shipley
Prime Minister

New Zealand is part of a global revolution.

Just as the 19th century was defined by the industrial revolution, the 20th century is being shaped by the knowledge revolution.

We are living in the age of information and technology. In this new era the ability to access, develop and apply knowledge will be the keys to our future success.

We need to prepare ourselves for that future.

The impact and influence of information and communication technologies are felt in most aspects of our lives.

Preparing our young with the skills for the 21st century requires the effective use of IT in education.

Today's launch of "Interactive Education: An Information and Communications Technology Strategy for New Zealand Schools" will promote the effective use of IT in schools and classrooms.

It is vital that our classrooms reflect the world in which our children live.

Much has been said about the importance of the production, transmission and utilisation of knowledge. This is what education is all about. And this is why the strategy is an essential ingredient to ensure all schools make the most of opportunities available to them.

At its heart, the strategy is about improving education and learning opportunities for every student in New Zealand. Information and communications technologies are not an end in themselves but they can add huge value to education in a variety of ways.

IT can assist in raising student achievement through more effective delivery of the curriculum, including the use of experts and resources both from within and outside New Zealand.

IT can better prepare students for the changing world in which they live, including developing information literacy skills to compete more effectively in global markets.

IT can overcome the barriers of distance to bring the best educators and resources into isolated classrooms.

IT can help with the more effective administration and management of schools.

The strategy builds on a considerable body of knowledge and experience already in schools and the private sector.

It will enhance the capacity of schools based on supporting a more effective environment for information and communications technologies and focus on school sector leadership.

It will also spread the benefits of effective information and communication technologies to a wide variety of schools and ensure that the relevant know-how and advice is on hand.

The strategy offers an exciting variety of new and effective ways in which education can be delivered in our schools.

As we approach the new millennium the information and communications technology tools now at our disposal will go further than merely substituting the chalk and blackboard of yesteryear but foreshadow a whole new approach to learning and classroom organisation. Already a number of New Zealand schools are at the forefront of this learning revolution. An objective of the strategy is to foster such innovation and ensure its spread to a wider range and variety of schools.

The strategy recognises the important role of teachers and principals in providing educational leadership within their communities.

The strategy has a large component of professional development to ensure that vision can be turned into reality in classrooms throughout the country.

There is no point in putting computers into classrooms if teachers don't have the skills required to make effective use of the technology in developing their teaching strategies.

As the Minister for Information Technology, Maurice Williamson put it: "It is essential that teachers are able to make effective use of today's technology today, so that our children can make effective use of tomorrow's technology tomorrow."

Schools, businesses and government all have a critical role to play in realising the potential of information and communication technology to enhance teaching and learning, to enhance student achievement and to make school administration more efficient.

I would encourage the business sector to consider ways in which they can work in partnership with schools. Computer recycling from businesses to schools will be promoted.

Already large corporates are involved in a range of initiatives including free phone lines, providing computer hardware and professional development for teachers and participating in 'Net Day'. I commend them for their involvement.

There is much to be gained for both students and the business sector in ensuring the workforce of the future is IT literate.

Finally, I would like to congratulate those involved in the development of the strategy.

The Minister of Education, Wyatt Creech, whose drive and vision has ensured that the strategy has come to fruition.

All those within the education sector whose time and energy have ensured that this will be a strategy with strong support from schools.

And the various industry representatives who have worked closely with the Government and the school sector.

Together you have developed focused and practical ways for ensuring that this strategy will complement local school decision making and initiative.

Personal computers, lap tops, the net, browsers, servers, interactive TV, video games, digital video discs are our children's reality now and our children's future.

As we move into the 21st century let us ensure they have the skills needed to succeed in the IT age. To help achieve this I am delighted to officially launch the Government's "Interactive Education: An Information and Communications Technology Strategy for New Zealand Schools".