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Investing in early childhood education

Investing in early childhood education

Budget 2005 continues the government’s drive to lift the education of New Zealand’s youngest children, with a significant new investment of $152 million over the next four years, Education Minister Trevor Mallard announced today. "Our government is firmly committed to giving all young New Zealanders the opportunity to have the best possible start in education and develop a lifetime love for learning. Our goal is to make early childhood education more accessible and affordable for all New Zealand families.

"Research tells us that quality early childhood education makes a positive difference to how children learn later on. The budget allocations mean that by 2009, this government will have increased spending on early childhood education by 136 per cent, to $694 million," Trevor Mallard said.

"Our government is committed to ensuring that as the costs of running an early childhood education service increase, funding will be adjusted accordingly. The services will receive $125 million over four years to increase funding rates to meet this commitment, of which $95 million is new money. The increases will apply from 1 July and may be as high as 18 per cent in some cases.

"Since the new funding rates were announced in November last year, the key collective agreements in the early childhood education sector have changed so it now costs services more to employ registered staff.

"Increasing funding rates to meet these higher costs ensures services are compensated for cost changes and don’t pass them onto parents.

"The new funding system includes a process where centres attest to minimum levels of pay to ensure staff members are rewarded for their qualifications and experience. I expect good centres will pay at least the minimum rate.

"The biggest increases are for teacher-led services which are required to employ registered teachers. As some 60 per cent of these services are private, they and community-based services will benefit significantly from these changes."

Other key Budget 2005 early childhood education initiatives over the next four years include: $28.4 million to further expand the early childhood Discretionary Grants Scheme. This will fund the building of 55 to 65 more community-based centres over the next four years in areas of need, in the lead-up to the introduction of free early childhood education for three and four year-olds from 1 July 2007. The additional funding takes the annual spend on Discretionary Grants to $20.8 million in 2005-06. $16 million for Foundations for Discovery, the new Information Communication Technology (ICT) framework for early childhood education launched in April this year. The framework promotes the use of ICT as a way to strengthen young children’s education, and to help early childhood education services operate efficiently.

"This budget, the Labour-Progressive Government’s total funding commitment to early childhood education has risen to about $523 million, an increase of $234 million since 1999," Trevor Mallard said.

"Since we came into government, we have invested heavily in early childhood education services and on top of this supported them with additional resources, professional development and training.

"We want to ensure the early childhood sector is supported in our drive to raise the quality and availability of early childhood education throughout New Zealand," Trevor Mallard said.

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