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Parity Not A Priority For Early Childhood

24 AUGUST 1999


Education Minister Nick Smith, in response to the teacher's union claim for parity for kindergarten teachers, today said that the union's proposition would unfairly discriminate against other early childhood teachers and would not be the most effective investment the Government could make in improving early childhood education.

"The teacher's union is understandably only interested in their members, but the Government must take a wider view. To give the 1,600 kindergarten teachers parity with primary teachers while leaving out the other 16,000 early childhood teachers, many of whom have identical qualifications, would be grossly unfair. I am astounded that the Alliance, who today endorsed the proposal, would discriminate against Montessori, Kohanga Reo, Rudolph Steiner, Barnardos, and other early childhood centres. If all these were included in the parity claim, the cost would not be $15 million per year but between $130 and $150 million."

"The Government's top priority for early childhood education is to increase participation rates, particularly among Maori and Pacific children, to ensure that every young New Zealander gets an early childhood education and no-one starts school at a disadvantage. A further funding priority is to better reward early childhood centres for quality, including better funding for centres with higher qualified staff."

"The parity argument can be taken to an illogical extreme; secondary teachers claim their work is similar to polytechnic tutors, polytechnic tutors claim their work is similar to university lecturers. The union and Alliance policy would end up with everyone, from pre-school educators to university lecturers, on the same salary."


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