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Toned Down ECE Strategy is Still Frightening

Toned Down ECE Strategy is Still Frightening

Thursday 12 Sep 2002 Donna Awatere Huata Press Releases -- Education

The Early Childhood Education Strategy "Pathways to the Future: Nga Huarahi Arataki", although a back down from earlier extreme plans, still has the potential to drive private providers out of business, ACT Education Spokesman Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"I am relieved that no moratorium has been imposed on independent early childhood centres, as was recommended by public providers at the draft stage. I hope the funding review is not designed to simply smuggle in this frightening change.

"Mr Mallard has struck his deal with his friends in the kindergarten union, and now seems determined to make life as difficult as possible for private competitors.

"This strategy will force up costs of independent providers, putting early childhood education out of reach for those who need it most.

"Independent providers account for sixty percent of all early childcare. As they are driven out of business, the Government will not be able to replace them - the average cost of establishing a kindergarten is $2 million.

"This plan will hit poor areas where fees can't be put up a further cent. Maori participation rates are already way behind non-Maori. The removal of private providers will reduce choice and participation.

"The funding announced today is pitiful. A third of the money is going to the unionised kindergarten teachers - where's the fairness in that? Mr Mallard's "pathway to the future" is lined with grinning unionists.

"Although toned down, this strategy is still based on the bigotry and ignorance of bureaucrats who will drive a huge wedge between the wealthy that can afford pre-school and the poor that can't," Mrs Awatere Huata said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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