Survey Reinforces Growth And Importance Of Quality Early Childhood Education
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa welcomes the findings of a survey on early childhood education which reinforces the value of the government’s 20 Hours Free Policy.
The survey by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research says the policy is improving family budgets and allowing some children to participate more fully in early childhood education. It states that in some cases parents said that without the free hours they would have had to take their children out of early childhood education.
NZEI says the survey, which is the first since the 20 Hours Free policy was introduced, provides a useful snapshot of the sector. It emphasises the importance of early childhood education and the growing demand for services.
NZEI President Frances Nelson says “there is mounting evidence that early childhood education is vital to a child’s development and is the building block for their future educational journey. It is great to see that the policy is giving more children those learning opportunities in their early years and helping families along the way.”
NZEI is monitoring political party policies on early childhood education in the lead up to the election. It wants to ensure that the gains made through such policies as 20 Hours Free are not lost and do not translate to insufficient funding or subsidy cuts in the future.
The survey does highlight that one of the ongoing challenges is the shortage of early childhood services in some areas. NZEI argues that with the 20 Hours Free policy fuelling demand, there is an urgent need for a planned national network of publicly owned services which young children in all communities can access.
NZEI has successfully fought for pay parity and better employment conditions for early childhood teachers which it believes has contributed to what the NZCER survey shows is very high morale among the workforce. The union has actively worked to professionalise the sector and boost the number of registered teachers working in centres.
“If we want quality education for our youngest learners, it must be underpinned by quality teachers who are supported and valued,” says Ms Nelson.