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Govt Ought To Fund Kindergarten - QPEC

QPEC Calls for Government Funding to Replace Eftpos Machines in Kindergartens

QPEC has tonight written to the Minister of Education Steve Maharey calling on the government to increase its funding for public early childhood centres which would allow kindergartens to abandon plans to install Eftpos machines for parents to pay fees.

Many parents cannot pay the fees and their children will miss out on a decent start in life. These are the very children from low income communities who would benefit the most from high quality education in their early years. Every scrap of research emphasises this point.

The government has no excuse to say it does not have the money. During the election campaign the then Minister of Education Trevor Mallard announced the government would pump more than $50 million into private “for profit” early childhood centres.

The Business Roundtable through its Education Forum campaigned for this private funding for many months. Labour buckled to that pressure while it ignored pleas from the public sector.

So it was when the profits of the early childhood businesses were under stress the government jumped in to bail them out. However when the education of New Zealand’s most vulnerable young citizens is under threat the government says they must bring in Eftpos machines and force parents to pay fees.

We have asked the Minister the critical question – “Just what is more important – the profits of the big companies running private kindergartens or opportunities for children from our low income communities to get a fair go?”

Children in low income communities already struggle to get a fair go. For example –

* Public secondary schools in low income communities are now 25% behind in per student income compared to schools in high income communities

*Even when the government’s “Working for Families” package is put in place there will still be 175,000 of our children living below the poverty line.

This kindergarten issue is a critical test of the government’s commitment to decent education for the New Zealand children who need it the most. The policy must change – and quickly.

John Minto

National Chairperson

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