15th August 2011
Yet another wake up call to the government to invest more in early childhood education
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is asking how much more evidence the government needs to stop treating early childhood education as an unmanageable cost rather than an investment for the future.
A report commissioned by Every Child Counts says that outcomes for New Zealand children are among the lowest in the OECD and that is costing the country up to $6 billion a year. It says New Zealand has among the lowest levels of public investment in children and access to affordable early childhood education is a critical form of investment which leads to positive returns.
“Here we have yet another report which stresses how important investing in the early years is and how quality early childhood education can improve outcomes for children later in life, ultimately saving the country billions of dollars a year,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.
“It is astounding that in the face of this type of evidence and similar recommendations from the ECE Taskforce and the Gluckman Report that this government continues to treat early childhood education as an unmanageable cost rather than a wise investment for the future”.
“It has cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to thousands of early childhood centres, treating qualified teachers as a luxury and making ECE more expensive for thousands of families,” she says.
In many countries such as Denmark where they have universal high quality early childhood education, children from low income backgrounds do four times better than similar children in other OECD countries.
An NZEI petition signed by more than 60,000 New Zealanders calls on the government to reverse the funding cuts and invest at least 1% of GDP on early childhood education as recommended by UNICEF. An OECD report in 2009 showed New Zealand spent 0.4% of GDP - well below the OECD average.
Ms Whitaker says “more investment in the early years is in the long-term interests of the whole country and the bottom-line is that our children are worth it.”