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Govt must take an honest look at ECE Taskforce submissions

8 August 2011

Government must take an honest look at ECE Taskforce submissions

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says the government must take an honest look at the submissions to the Taskforce on Early Childhood Education and not dictate the outcome.

Submissions close today on the Taskforce report which is likely to serve as the government’s blueprint for the future of early childhood education.

NZEI says the biggest concern is a proposal to water down the universal 20 Hours ECE policy.

“That would jeopardise the accessibility and quality of early childhood education to thousands of families,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.

“We know that the 20 Hours ECE policy has made it more affordable and has pushed up participation rates. Any move to dilute it would be a big step backwards and provoke an angry response from the community.”

NZEI would also be concerned by any moves to introduce a market-driven model of pay for teachers as that would erode professional salaries and employment conditions and ultimately reduce the quality of ECE for children and families.

The Taskforce report does identify quality early childhood education as one of the most important investments that a country can make and recommends that investment be prioritised even in times of fiscal constraint. It supports 100% qualified teachers, low adult-child ratios and small group sizes.

“Unfortunately current government policy runs contrary to all that,” says Ms Whitaker. “The government has cut funding and has actually moved to halt improvement on those issues, arguing that early childhood education is an unaffordable cost.”

“We hope it can find the courage to listen to the sector and the community and take the submissions to the Taskforce on board. To do anything else would make a mockery of the consultation process.”

ENDS

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