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Early childhood education critical to success

Budget 2002 continues the government’s commitment to early childhood education with a further $61 million investment over the next four years to improve quality and access.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said further funding had been set aside in the contingency fund to implement initiatives arising out of the early childhood strategic plan, to be released later this year, and to phase in pay parity for kindergarten teachers from 1 July.

“The government recognises that there will be flow on effects to other ECE services as a result of pay parity and has put in place a two stage increase in the funding available to Rate 2 centres – which employ higher numbers of qualified staff.

“They will receive a 1.4 per cent inflation adjustment from 1 July and a further 2.3 per cent increase from the beginning of next year.

“Funding for Rate 1 centres and licence-exempt centres will increase by 2.5 per cent from July this year. Kindergartens will also receive an inflation adjustment for costs outside of staffing from 1 July this year. $36 million has been budgeted over four years for these increases,” Trevor Mallard said.

“Over the last two budgets, we’ve emphasised the importance of qualified staff. Budget 2002 continues that emphasis, providing $10.6 million over four years for an early childhood teacher supply strategy. That includes extending the grants available to help current teachers upgrade their qualifications and help primary teachers retrain for early childhood.

“We have set aside $5 million in the capital works budget for the 2002-03 year to provide new early childhood facilities. It is envisaged that many of these would use school property.

“The new funding is in addition to the discretionary grants scheme - a fund for community-based early childhood centres to establish their own facilities.

“More and more research is showing the importance of early childhood education to later educational achievement. This government is committed to investing in children in the early years,” Trevor Mallard said.

Ends

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