Recycle a Device (RAD) is a multi-stakeholder partnership born out of the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, when it became obvious that the learning outcomes of students who had a laptop and could participate in online study and those who did not was crystal clear and alarming.
The digital divide in New Zealand is significant and affects the prosperity of so many people. This divide was highlighted during lockdown when those without devices simply couldn’t attend school and work, do their banking, apply for jobs and so many more daily tasks that take place online.
“There are three key points that Recycle a Device (RAD) is all about: we get fit-for-purpose laptops into the hands of those who need them most; we upskill high school students with in-demand tech engineering skills; and we also tackle the e-waste issue.” explains project manager Bronwyn Scott.
The Tauranga and wider Bay of Plenty region are gaining a reputation as digital innovation leaders, with programmes led by Priority One, Toi Kai Rawa and many creative industry players. It was through this network that RAD was established at Te Wharekura o Mauao, a Māori-medium year 7 – 13 school in Bethlehem, Tauranga.
During the initial RAD training day students learnt how to replace hardware and install and upgrade software. They got hands-on with micro screwdriver kits and took old laptops to pieces. They practised swapping out batteries and broken components with another one that works. The trainers showed them how to blow out dust and replace thermal paste to stop the laptops overheating, and install a clean Windows 10 or Chrome OS.
Teacher Greg Scrivin says he now has several quality refurbished laptops to use in science classes and lunchtime code club. “They’re loaded up with productivity software for education. And as part of the RAD scheme vision, we are rolling out ex-corporate laptops to community groups and whānau who do not otherwise have a device, so it really feels like we are doing a positive thing for the community,” he says.
There is demand for Māori programmers and Greg says an initiative like RAD widens the aspirations of ākonga and introduces them to new skills and possibilities. “You send a device home; you will empower the whole whānau to access the online world and reach out and connect with people and groups online. I’m so excited that digital technology is giving the kids access to learning those skills, or knowing they exist and being a bit curious. It’s giving them confidence that they can try something new and dreaming that they could have a career in IT.”
The next steps for RAD involve finding more donors for old laptops, and spreading the programme to more schools around the country. Learn more at recycleadevice.nz.