Survey Shows Stark Reality of Government ECE Cuts
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says a survey of early childhood education services shows the stark reality of government cuts to early childhood funding.
The government is cutting $295 million dollars out of the early childhood budget by reducing subsidies to those services which employ more than 80% qualified teachers.
A Labour Party survey of 435 early childhood services shows 94% are losing funding. Of those 89% say they are being forced to increase their fees, almost half say they will be reducing numbers of qualified staff, and 59% expect participation levels to drop as a direct result of the budget cuts.
“Those figures paint a disturbing picture for services, families and children but it’s a picture the government is failing to see,” says NZEI Vice President Judith Nowotarski.
The government continues to repeat that the budget cuts are necessary because too much has been spent on early childhood education with no corresponding increase in participation levels. However the reality is that from 2000-2009 the number of children enrolled in early childhood education increased by 17% but more significantly the quality of that education improved markedly with the investment. It also became more affordable.
Mrs Nowotarski says “the cuts make a nonsense out of the government’s drive to increase participation levels because as this survey shows, a majority of services believe the cuts will drive participation down by making early childhood education too costly for thousands of families.”
“The fact that the government is also happy to stand by and watch services lay off fully qualified staff so they can meet their budget shortfalls is unconscionable. Not only does it undo all the good work that has gone in to encourage teachers to become fully qualified and registered, it undermines the quality of education for our youngest children.”
This survey should give the government a clear message that it should stop treating early childhood education as a cost rather than an investment, because the people paying the cost are children and their families.