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Early Childhood Education Teachers Take Action Urging Government To Prioritise Tamariki

Kaiako and kaimahi working in early childhood education (ECE) are holding a national day of action to call on the new government to put tamariki first by prioritising improvements to the ECE sector.

The new government’s clear intention to scrap a Fair Pay Agreement for ECE and to fund already privileged groups, such as landlords, over ECE teachers, as well as many teachers being no closer to receiving funding for full pay parity, leaves ECE kaiako and kaimahi feeling fed-up.

Geena Fagan, an ECE teacher from Dunedin, says the ECE sector has been struggling for a long time.

“ECE teachers want to be able to provide the best education to tamariki in our care, but our poor teacher to child ratios and an outdated funding system make that a real challenge. On top of that, we struggle to attract and retain kaiako and kaimahi because pay hasn’t kept up with the rest of the education sector.

“It’s dire out there, and we are all terrified about what will happen over the next three years, especially without full pay parity or a Fair Pay Agreement,” says Ms Fagan.

“Our sector needs proper investment now or we will lose teachers to jobs that are paid properly. It really feels like we’re at a tipping point where if something isn’t done now, the sector might fall down.”

Ms Fagan says it is well known that the early years play a key role in children’s brain development.

The Government’s coalition documents, as well as a leaked Cabinet paper showing their plan to repeal Fair Pay Agreement legislation against official advice, make it clear that the pay and working conditions of kaiako and kaimahi are not their priority, says NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary, Stephanie Mills.

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“Progress towards fixing funding and improving working conditions through a Fair Pay Agreement will soon be axed, and instead, ECE could be up for a ‘regulation review’ that will only serve to reduce quality.

“No government would deny that our young children need the best start we can give them, yet successive governments have been failing them. We want to see the incoming government prioritise our sector – starting with funding full pay parity for all ECE teachers,” says Ms Mills.

"Early childhood teachers deserve to be paid fairly for their work with our youngest tamariki and recognised as equals with their teaching colleagues in the rest of the education sector.

“We need put our tamariki first and that means respecting all ECE teachers as professionals by improving their pay and working conditions."

ECE Day of Action events take place around the motu, led by kaiako and kaimahi during and around work hours on Friday 8 December. See https://action.nzei.org.nz/calendars/loud4ece for more.

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