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Giving with one hand, taking with the other

28 May 2004

Giving with one hand, taking with the other

The Budget’s many positive steps to get people into work are a cruel hoax for the popular, private early childhood sector with the Education Minister yesterday doing his best to ensure no more investment and a potential loss of jobs in that sector.

Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque said that, on one hand, the Minister of Social Development was working to grow the economy by increasing support for people in work; but on the other, the Education Minister seemed to be trying to shut down an innovative and successful part of the economy by enticing families away from anything but community-owned early childhood centres. Budget-announced plans will give some children 20 hours free early childhood education per week but only if they attend community-based early centres.

“The private sector has blossomed in the past few years as parents have flocked to allday centres. Now the minister’s actions are, in effect, telling parents with children at private centres that they don’t know what they are doing and have made the wrong choice,” Mr LaRocque said.

“The government doesn’t tell social welfare beneficiaries they can’t go to New World but must buy their groceries from a community co-op; it doesn’t tell students where they can use their student loans; but the minister sees fit to sell the message that private enterprise is unwelcome in early childhood education, highly popular though that type of service may be.”


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