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20 Hours Free not safe under Key

11 July 2008

20 Hours Free not safe under Key

The release of National Party policy on early childhood education has been done with little fanfare today to disguise the fact that National’s leader John Key will not guarantee that the scheme will continue to be free for Kiwi parents, says Education Minister Chris Carter.

“The removal of the word ‘free’ from the policy should ring alarm bells for tens of thousands of mums and dads who have put their kids through the scheme, many of them saving hundreds of dollars a week through the provision of 20 Hours Free early childhood education,” said Chris Carter.

National’s policy says it will keep “existing” subsidies and fee controls, but then makes no commitment to adjust for cost pressures such as teacher salaries.

In addition to removing the word ‘free’ National claims they will increase the adult/child ratio for children under two from 1:5 to 1:4. The employment of additional staff will increase costs to centres and there is no indication in the policy that they will provide any financial assistance for this either.

John Key has also made no commitment to control “optional extras” that unsuspecting mums and dads may be charged.

“In its heart National does not believe in free early childhood education and this is why the policy has been buried on Friday lunchtime with no launch event, it is obvious that John Key is staying at arms length from the announcement.

“They voted against 20 Hours Free and now the “free” is going to be gone by lunchtime.

“A child who attends ECE has a much better chance of succeeding in school and later in life. That is why this government is committed to continuing the hugely successful 20 Hours Free scheme for the benefit of all New Zealand families,” said Chris Carter.


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