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Launch of Foundations for Discovery

Hon. Trevor Mallard
12 April 2005 Speech Notes

Launch of Foundations for Discovery

Speech to the launch of Foundations for Discovery, Capital E, Wellington

Good afternoon everyone, and thanks for coming along to this launch of Foundations for Discovery - the first ever framework and guide on the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in early childhood education.

This is a significant and exciting development and is also an important and significant step in the implementation of our 10-year strategic plan, Ngâ Huarahi Arataki: Pathways to the Future.

The strategic plan is changing the face of early childhood education in New Zealand.

April 1 saw the start of increased funding to centres in recognition of the costs of hiring qualified staff to meet qualification requirements. Importantly, the new funding system includes a process where centres attest to minimum levels of pay, to ensure that it is the staff who are rewarded for their qualifications.

They are also funded on the basis of rewarding experience, as set out in the Consenting Parties agreement and I expect that good centres will pay at least that rate.

The ICT framework I am launching today is another key development in setting the direction for, and improving the quality of education that under-fives receive in services across New Zealand.

We know investing in quality early childhood education is critical to children’s learning and opportunities in later life, and that is why the Labour-led government has committed to such heavy investment and work in this area.

Research here and overseas continually shows us that children who have been involved in quality early childhood education do much better in terms of educational achievement in later years. The hard work and commitment from all of you involved in early childhood education is crucial to their learning and development.

The research also tells us that used well, ICT can be a big help to a child’s learning. Children can use ICT to observe, explain, record and review their world in different ways, and ICT can assist with the development of early literacy and maths and communication skills.

Our rapidly developing world means our youngsters are experiencing and using technology in ways many of us would not have dreamed of.

But let me stress that the use of ICT in early childhood education is not about sitting toddlers in front of computers and leaving them to it. As Minister for Sports and Recreation I recently launched resources to lift the level of physical activity that our under-fives do. So I want to stress that I see these two initiatives as complementary, and activities that could easily combine with, rather than preclude each other.

ICT is about all the new technologies that influence our lives – from DVDs and interactive multimedia programmes to digital cameras and telephones and how these can be used to support learning.

At this launch, you will hear how ICT is already making a positive educational impact and a difference to the experiences kids receive.

ICT is also a valuable tool in building professional capability in the ECE sector and providing new ways of accessing professional development, and sharing best practice.

And ICT can help services manage their information systems and administration, and improve their communications with others in the education sector, their local community, parents and families.

The Foundations for Discovery framework will have a key role in ensuring children benefit from the technologies they will encounter in every day life.

It is not mandatory. It is a resource to be used to assist everyone who is involved in early childhood education.

I hope the framework will encourage each early childhood service to assess its ICT philosophy and practice, and develop ICT-related goals to suit their own children’s and community needs.

Through this we want the sector to be better positioned to maximise the benefits and minimise the risks of using and investing in ICT.

To assist, our government as part of Budget 2005 is committing $16 million over the next four years.

This will fund the development of standards to assist the development of early childhood education networks, and fund a strong web presence for the development and sharing of ICT knowledge in early childhood education.

To assist in building this professional capability, the government will fund regional workshops and research. This research will help us to find out more about how ICT works best in early childhood education.

Support for early childhood services and organisations as they build ICT infrastructure and e-administration systems will also be given.

Guidelines on health and safety, including Internet Cybersafety, management systems, and ICT equipment will be provided too, and there will be a national helpdesk for advice on ICT.

Finally can I say that Foundations for Discovery is the result of a strong partnership between the government and the early childhood sector.

My thanks to everyone involved in bringing this framework together.

This new framework captures the current needs and priorities of the sector and sets up a clear plan of action for the future development of ICT in early childhood education.

This has to be great news for all of our youngsters participating in early childhood education today and in the future.

Thank you.

ENDS

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