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Early Childhood Research Wake-Up for Govt Policy

Early Childhood Research a Wake-Up Call for Government Policy

The New Zealand Council for Educational Research report on early childhood education is a “wake-up” call for government policy on funding our early childhood sector.

The research - which was reported over the weekend - shows the critical importance of quality early childhood education (ECE) to the progress children make in school. Children who received high quality ECE (as opposed to mediocre ECE) outperform other students even many years later in schooling.

There are 2 important lessons here for the government, namely -

This sector - which has traditionally been the “poor relation” in education - needs funding well beyond the recent budget allocation and

ECE must be funded on a “high quality for all” model rather than as it is at present on a “market model”

ECE was widely seen as the budget winner in education but this is only in comparison to the paltry sums allocated to schools for operations grants or to our public tertiary institutions.

Secondly ECE centres are currently funded on a “market model” irrespective of quality and many centres are little more than babysitting services. This is particularly true among private ECE providers who have lobbied hard through their body - the Early Childhood Council - for lower standards of training for those running ECE centres and those they employ.

Private providers are quite capable of providing quality ECE but only for those able to pay for it. In other words children will get the quality of ECE their parents are able to afford.

The alternative to this “market model” is a system where quality ECE is seen as a basic right for all children and is provided by the government on the basis of “high quality for everyone” irrespective of the parents’ ability to pay.

Redirecting ECE funding quickly and progressively to a national network of high quality community based ECE centres must become a government priority.

John Minto

National Chairperson

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