Quality early childhood teaching again undermined by the Budget
Universal funding for early childhood education has been effectively cut for the fourth year in a row.
NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski says it is disappointing that the Government has yet again chosen to squeeze the funding for this vital area of education.
“We welcome the Government’s goal of increasing participation rates from current 95 percent to 98 percent, but this should not be at the expense of adequately funding ECE for the vast majority of children.
“Looking at the numbers, the vast majority of ECE centres will be effectively facing a cut because the universal funding increase will not keep up with increasing costs.”
“That increase equates to between 1 and 8 cents per hour per child
“Once again, centres may be faced with trying to find savings wherever possible and will have to look at raising fees to parents and reducing the number of qualified teachers.”
“Clearly it’s a case of hitting parents in the pocket or reducing the quality of teaching at early childhood level.
Mrs Nowotarski says it’s ironic that while the government constantly talks of improving teaching quality, its policies simply don’t match its rhetoric.
“Every Budget since 2009 has seen an effective decrease in funding for early childhood education and changes in policy that undermine earlier targets of increasing the ratio of qualified teachers.
“Already we’ve seen a big decline in the number of early childhood services achieving the previous target of 80 percent qualified teachers by 2010. Fewer than half now have 80 percent of their staff qualified teachers.
Ms Nowotarski says the axing of the $15-million fund to support newly qualified teachers is another short term and short sighted approach that will undermine quality education.
“Good quality early childhood education is a vitally important part of our education sector, especially for children who are vulnerable and who come from deprived backgrounds.
“If the government wants to improve children’s learning it needs to ensure that our ECE centres are funded to employ qualified teachers, have good adult-child rations and small group sizes.”