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Budget 2006: Quality and access in EC Education

Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Education

Quality and access in early childhood education

Putting quality early childhood education within the reach of all New Zealand families is the focus of a $162 million investment over four years announced today by Education Minister Steve Maharey.

"Budget 2006 continues our drive to give all young New Zealanders the best start in education, through improved access to quality early childhood education," Steve Maharey said.

"High quality early childhood education makes a significant difference to how children learn and develop later on. This investment will lower the cost of early childhood education and boost the number of qualified early childhood teachers.

"To lower the costs for parents, funding is being provided to implement Labour's policy of up to 20 hours per week free early childhood education for three and four year-olds from July next year in teacher-led services. This will benefit around 92,000 children in the first year.

"Funding rates for providers will also increase to recognise the cost of bringing more qualified teachers on board. Increasing funding to meet these higher costs ensures providers are compensated for cost changes and don’t pass them onto parents. The extra funding of almost $30 million over four years will also enable the early childhood sector to move more rapidly towards its goal of all teachers being registered by 2012.

"Playcentres will also receive a funding boost of $4 million over the next four years, to ensure they are more financially sustainable. The funding will help reduce the time Playcentre volunteers currently need to spend on administration, so they can spend more time with children.

"Quality and participation in early childhood education have increased significantly in the last five years as a result of investments by Labour-led governments. Around 94 percent of all New Zealand children now take part in early childhood education. Overall funding for early childhood education has more than doubled since 1999, and the number of qualified teachers has increased by 50 percent.

"This Budget puts us on track to realise our vision of giving every New Zealand child a solid foundation through quality early childhood education."

ENDS

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