ECE targets could cause harm without quality - NZEI
1 November 2016
NZEI Te Riu Roa says the Government's drive to recruit young children to any early childhood service that's available could be doing more harm than good, and is calling for an immediate shift in focus to quality early childhood education.
The Government has released its latest update on its Better Public Performance targets, claiming an increase in the participation rate of children in Early Childhood Education is a success for social investment.
"For New Zealand's most vulnerable children, participation in a low quality service isn't going to help them, in fact the research shows it could be doing them harm,' said Virginia Oakly, NZEI Te Riu Roa executive member and head kindergarten teacher.
The Government has been repeatedly warned about the dangers of low quality ECE to children, and that participation is not a proxy for quality.
Yet since 2010 it has cut funding for services that are committed to employing only qualified teachers - the strongest predictor of quality teaching and learning.
"Knowing how crucial quality ECE is for children, it is irresponsible to be driving children into any old early childhood service, while at the same time making it harder for quality teacher-led services to survive," Ms Oakly said.
Since 2010, funding for Early Childhood Education has been virtually frozen, with budget increases only accounting for increased numbers of enrollments, leaving centres with real term funding cuts, when inflation is taken into account.
"If New Zealand is serious about freeing children from poverty and nurturing the potential of all our children, it must restore funding for quality early childhood education and incentives to employ qualified teachers. Every child is worth a great early childhood education, and New Zealand can afford to provide it," Ms Oakly said.