In 1994 the Tonga High School Ex-Students’ Association completed a three year project to build and equip a computer classroom. The 1st floor islands classroom, which included a store room, became the renovated classroom where the Ex-Students’ Association built their computer lab.
Three classes comprising Form 3 and Form 4 students were seconded as volunteers to begin the school’s computer studies, 40 students in total. Initially the school year began without computers and students were dealt theory in the classroom and practical/lab experience were gained at the nearby Community Development Training Centre. Student’s were required to walk to the centre during their lunch breaks, and spend the term breaks doing lab work to compensate for the lack of computer time.
Since Form 5 and Form 6 students sat external examinations (Form 5 sat the national School Certificate while Form 6 sat the Pacific Secondary School Certificate) these students were exempted from the trial year. 1994 was a year to trial the new course, and to develop a proposal/submission to the national education body for a local examination in Computer Studies for Form 5 students.
In late May, 20 * IBM Valuepoint 486sx 33Mhz computers, Two Epson LQ800 printers, One IBM QuietWriter II and One HP LaserJet 4L were installed and the new computer class room was ready for a June inauguration. Student’s began preparations for the English PITMAN examinations. Unfortunately sample examination papers determined that the preparation work was inadequate for the examination requirements. External examinations were delayed for 1995.
As part of the activities of Computer Studies, students were involved in the publication of a number of school communiques, including:
A weekly newsletter for students on school activities.
A monthly newsletter to parents on school activities.
A quarterly newsletter to ex-students on school and ex-students
The annual School Magazine.
In February 1997 Cable & Wireless Tonga released the availability of Internet Service provisions in the Kingdom of Tonga. Although attempts have been made to provide a cost effective access system for schools there is yet no general access for students to the internet.
The computer lab renovation was funded by the Ex-Students’ Association and work was carried out by school staff and students on weekends and evenings after school. The renovation work, including the construction of tables and security doors took three (school) weeks.
Supervising the student work were Sinei Tengei (caretaker), Hekisou Fifita (Industrial Arts teacher) and Tevita Tonga (Industrial Arts teacher). Due to Tonga’s warm climate and uneven power supply, the computer lab is cooled by three standard room air conditioners. The room has its own circuit breaker switch box with a separate switch for each row of computers (3 rows) and each air conditioner.
In the Christmas of 1996, the School Band toured Australia and with the resulting funds the school and Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) funded the renovation of another class-room including the installation of the school’s second computer laboratory.
The new laboratory was officially opened during the 50th Anniversary celebrations by HRH Princess Salote Pilolevu Tuita and included new innovations for the school, most notably a networked classroom.
For a brief moment the school ventured into the use of the Internet to supplement student learning, but unfortunately the extreme costs and misunderstandings between management soon saw this venture fall apart in bureaucracy and lack of funding.