7 July 2005
ECE proposals undermine quality and access
National’s early childhood education proposals merely confirm the party cares more about appearing to save money through tax cuts than providing quality, affordable education for all New Zealand children.
PPTA general secretary Kevin Bunker said the party’s decisions to axe the 20 hours’ free early childhood education from 2007 and give tax deductions for working parents using childcare were superficially attractive to parents in the short run, but they would end up paying more in fees directly to childcare centres than they would receive from any deduction.
He said the tax deductions would also encourage the expansion of a deregulated, private market in early childhood education, with no guarantees those centres would provide high quality education.
He also said tagging the tax deduction to families where both parents (or the solo parent) worked also discriminated against families with one parent at home yet who wanted their children to benefit from attending high quality early childhood education.
“Any initiative that pays for childcare by giving money to parents in tax cuts or vouchers provides absolutely no incentive to early childhood centres to use trained staff, have good staff/student ratios and invest in quality education programmes and resources.
“What’s more, National’s plan to axe the 20 hours’ free childcare in community centres will restrict access to early childhood education for thousands of New Zealanders at a time when research shows that quality preschool education makes an important contribution to reducing disparities in achievement right up to secondary school.
“So much for professing concern for kids through a simplistic billboard campaign. The reality is that National’s proposals are a nail in the coffin for the goal of enabling as many New Zealand children as possible to access free high quality early childhood education.
“Government has an essential role to play in ensuring that the maximum number of families can access the best quality early childhood education for their children.
“The only way to do that is to fund those early childhood centres that meet the highest quality standards and employ trained and qualified staff.”