Maori Party ECE policy welcomed, but don’t forget the quality
4 September 2014
NZEI Te Riu Roa welcomes the Maori Party’s policy to increase free hours for early childhood education from 20 to 30 hours a week, but warns that quality must not be sacrificed for quantity.
NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said it was good that the Maori Party acknowledged the lifelong benefits for children who participated in early childhood education, but it was important to remember that it was the quality of the education that made the difference.
“It is not enough to simply attend a centre – research shows that it is qualified teachers that make the difference. They know how children learn, have a deep understanding of New Zealand’s wonderful early childhood curriculum, Te Whaariki, and can turn every conversation and activity into a learning experience,” she said.
NZEI believes all children deserve qualified teachers, regardless of the type of ECE centre they attend. It was involved in developing the Ki Taiao programme – an online early childhood teaching degree at Waikato University, tailored especially for kōhanga reo teachers.
“We hope that the Maori Party will also push for quality teaching in ECE and Kohanga Reo, not just extra hours. That means a return to the target of 100% qualified ECE teachers in centres and funding for those teachers. Currently, the government only funds a centre for up to 80% qualified teachers and those centres that have 100% qualified teachers, such as kindergartens, are struggling to make ends meet,” said Ms Nowotarski.
Labour, Greens, NZ First and Internet Mana have all committed to restoring funding for ECE centres to have 100% qualified teachers.