Principals have slated an $87 million scheme to provide IT equipment to children during lockdown as a "disaster" and a waste of money.

Hundreds of unwanted modems have arrived at wealthy schools that don't need them, because their students already have Wi-Fi - and in any case are now back at school and no longer learning from home.

At the other end of the income scale, many students who need computers and access to internet are still waiting for them more than three weeks after all students returned to classes.

The Government earmarked much of an $87.7 million Covid-19 education package to giving computers and free six-month internet packages to 82,000 homes with school-aged children that were not online when the country went into lockdown on March 25.

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Rangitoto College principal Patrick Gale has 45 internet routers which have turned up for students who don't need them. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Rangitoto College principal Patrick Gale has 45 internet routers which have turned up for students who don't need them. Photo / Brett Phibbs

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But decile-10 Rangitoto College principal Patrick Gale said only two of his 3300 students did not have home internet access - yet 45 modems have turned up at the school in the past week including one addressed to his own daughter.

"The cost of what they are doing is just enormous and I'm concerned by the wastage," he said.

Decile-9 Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves said his reception area was full of about 50 "high-spec modems that have no use to us or the students for whom they are intended".

Steven Hargreaves:
Steven Hargreaves: "They have wi-fi connections at home. It's a disaster." Photo / Dean Purcell

"They have Wi-Fi connections at home. It's a disaster," he said.

"We have 200 students on our list that supposedly have no internet connection, which is plainly wrong given that we are a BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] school and have been for five years.

"So if you multiply that across the country I would say there are thousands of modems out there that have no end-user ready for them."

Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O'Connor has received 137 modems that he doesn't need/ Photo / Jason Oxenham
Auckland Grammar School headmaster Tim O'Connor has received 137 modems that he doesn't need/ Photo / Jason Oxenham

Auckland Grammar headmaster Tim O'Connor, whose school is also rated decile 9, said he had received 137 unneeded modems.

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"None of us can work out why we are receiving them," he said.

"They have clearly given the telcos [internet providers] school database information and the telcos have identified from their understanding who did not have an internet connection. They are sending out modems to everyone the telcos have identified as not having an internet connection.

"The list is highly inaccurate. For example, we have been delivered $70,000 worth of modems, every one from a different telco."

Pat Drumm:
Pat Drumm: "The whole delivery of modems has been problematic." Photo / Dean Purcell

However decile-7 Mt Albert Grammar headmaster Pat Drumm, who has also received modems for students who don't need them, said he hoped to get them reallocated to other students who do need them.

"The whole delivery of modems has been problematic," he said.

Greg Pierce says only about 70 out of 440 students who needed devices at Aorere College have received them. Photo / Dean Purcell
Greg Pierce says only about 70 out of 440 students who needed devices at Aorere College have received them. Photo / Dean Purcell

Decile-2 Aorere College, which had students who missed out on computers because they were sent to the wrong addresses in the lockdown, says only about 70 of its 440 students who needed devices have received them.

"When we got wind that there were hiccups with getting them to the right addresses, we got the devices delivered directly to the school," said principal Greg Pierce.

But staff are still changing the licence on each device from the Ministry of Education to the college, which takes 20 to 25 minutes for each one.

"So the reality is the students who should have had access to them, we hope to get them to the students' hands by the end of the week," he said.

Kiri Turketo says devices and modems are still being delivered to just under 400 students at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. Photo / Supplied
Kiri Turketo says devices and modems are still being delivered to just under 400 students at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate. Photo / Supplied

And at decile-1 Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, principal Kiri Turketo said just under 400 devices and internet connections were still being delivered to her students.

"We are distributing those now that they are coming in, but they are still coming in," she said.

The ministry's chief digital officer Stuart Wakefield said the ministry has sent out 23,242 computers to students who needed them and has 400 requests outstanding for the top priority group, students in Years 11 to 13 in deciles 1 to 3.

"We have further devices on order with delivery from overseas confirmed. We currently expect them to arrive in late June, and to be dispatched to students in early July," he said.

"The ministry has arranged 51,710 household connections to the internet. We estimate that there are around 30,000 still to be arranged and we expect to arrange these by June 30."

He acknowledged that "we didn't always get it right", but said nothing would be wasted.

"Modems not required can be returned and reallocated. If in cases the modem/router wasn't required, it won't be wasted - either another household will use it or we will return it," he said.

"Schools can still choose to place an order for connectivity. We have asked schools to ensure their orders are complete by Friday, June 12, to maximise the benefit for students while our telecommunications partners are offering discounted pricing."

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