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New Incentives Acknowledge Teacher Crisis

Fri, 24 Sep 2004

Media release: Education sector

New Incentives Acknowledge Teacher Crisis

The Early Childhood Council congratulates the Minister of Education on his recently announced initiatives to increase the supply of qualified early childhood teachers through a range of taxpayer funded incentives and scholarships.

"It is a relief that Mr Mallard has particularly acknowledged the chronic teacher shortage in Auckland and has taken positive steps to help recruit more teachers into that region" said Sue Thorne, Chief Executive Officer of the Early Childhood Council.

We are pleased to see a shift from the current inequitable, ethnicity based scholarships to scholarships based on income. However we expect the $20,000 income limit will mean very few of the 6000 staff already working in centres who are required to do further training will be eligible.

"They would have to be earning less than $10.00 per hour to be under the threshold and this would be highly unlikely" said Mrs Thorne

The Early Childhood Council brought the severity of the early childhood staffing crisis to the Minister's attention three years ago. It was May 2004 before his officials finally acknowledged that 400 early childhood centres faced the risk of not meeting the new qualifications requirements.

It takes at least three years to gain an early childhood qualification so it will be 2008 before the recipients of these scholarships graduate.

"The new scholarships provide no relief to those centres facing closure next year however in the longer term they should increase the number of qualified staff" said Mrs Thorne.

We still have serious concerns for the survival of the many hundreds of centres that are unlikely to be saved from the Ministry of Education axe by these measures.

Under current regulations staff in positions of responsibility who trained under the previous licensing points system will lose their positions on 1 January 2005 and there are insufficient new graduates to replace them.

"In addition to the long-term measures announced this week, the Minister also needs to allow these experienced and competent staff to remain in their positions to avert centre closures in the New Year" said Mrs Thorne.

ENDS


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