A group of financially disadvantaged Wellington families will receive a free modem and internet connection today as part of a programme to improve children's education.
The 14 families in the Wellington region were chosen by children's charity Variety and 2degrees for the rollout and will receive a year of free internet and at least another if they complete a survey about the experience.
The rollout will include 100 families in total around the country.
A pilot of 25 families last year showed they were able to do more together and children enjoyed school more when they had access to the internet at home, Variety's programme administrator Cushla McKenzie-Higgott said.
"We found that the children were enjoying school, performing better at school, were happier.
"The benefits spread throughout the family . . . parents were able to look for jobs, do internet banking. We found they were cooking together, looking up recipes, preparing for family birthdays, things like that."
In a survey following the pilot, 82 per cent of caregivers said their children achieved more at school, while 68 per cent said their children were able to participate in more school activities.
For example, some students were required to keep a blog for school, but those without internet hadn't been able to. McKenzie-Higgott said one student even won their school's blog competition after gaining the free internet connection.
Kids who wrote to Variety and 2degrees to give their feedback said it made it easy to finish any work they weren't able to complete at school.
"Also if we search famous people's information," one child wrote.
"For example Jonah Lomu was born 1975 and died 2015. All that info I got from the internet."
Another child was pleased they could use the internet not just for homework, but also for school games and YouTube.
Someone else said the connection meant they were able to help their classmates with school work when they were at home.
According to the survey, parents said there was a 50 per cent improvement in attendance at school, and 82 per cent of children said they enjoyed school more when they had the internet at home.
McKenzie-Higgott was unsure how many families around the country were going without the internet, but "we definitely found families don't have any broadband, or if they do, it's often just a little bit of data on a mobile phone".
"We're definitely focusing more on children . . . we know that being able to do school work and research is a big thing.
"We can see the benefit for the whole family."
The groups have already launched the initiative in Christchurch and will be holding launches in Auckland at a later date. At this stage they will be providing free internet to 100 families around the country.
Porirua mum Tina Daley plans to improve her own education once her family receives the free internet too.
Daley, who has two daughters aged 7 and 5, said she wanted to look at enrolling online in study.
"I'm excited to be getting it," she said, adding there were "so many opportunities" for things she could do online, such as paying her power bill and doing her banking.
"I don't know much about going on the internet so it will be a good experience for me."
The internet would be particularly good for her elder daughter, who needed extra help with her spelling and vocabulary.
Daley was looking forward to sitting down and having "learning time" with her girls, and believed the internet access would help her grow in her own confidence.
The announcement comes shortly after a survey of schools revealed a gap in home internet access for students.
The survey found that at one in six of the country's poorest schools, less than a quarter of students had access to internet at home.
The survey by the state-owned Network for Learning, which provides high-speed broadband to 99 per cent of NZ schools, also found that 56 per cent of the low-decile principals felt the lack of internet at home had an impact on teaching and learning.