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Poorer kids denied early childhood education

Poorer kids denied early childhood education

The largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres in New Zealand has spoken in support of Salvation Army concerns that availability of early childhood education is 'heavily biased against poorer urban communities'.

Responding to publication of the army's first 'state of the nation report' the Early Childhood Council's Chief Executive Sue Thorne said it was 'morally wrong to have increased early childhood education spending by hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, but to have pathetically little of this money targeted to the most needy of children'.

And it was 'unacceptable to have at-risk children who missed out on early childhood education arriving at primary school behind from day one'.

Research showed that the greatest measurable educational and social benefits from early childhood education were to be had by low-income children, Mrs Thorne said.

'And it is madness that we are not targeting more substantial resources at these children.'

Mrs Thorne said it was difficult to not link Salvation Army statistics showing low access to early childhood education in the most needy areas to other statistics in the report showing that Maori students were 2.7 times more likely than Pakeha to be stood down from school for disciplinary problems, and wide achievement gaps between low and high decile schools.

Access for at-risk children would be a keynote issue at the Early Childhood Council's 2008 annual conference, Mrs Thorne said.

The council has 1000 centre members nationwide. They are both community owned and commercially owned, employ more than 7000 staff and educate more than 50,000 children.

ends

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