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Mallard Needs More Than a Hammer

Trevor Mallard must do more than simply build a few new classrooms if he is sincere about fixing preschool education, ACT Education Spokesman MP Donna Awatere Huata said today.

"Trevor Mallard is looking for easy answers to complex problems. He wants to build classrooms as a monument to his ego, instead of focussing on the real problems: a lack of staff, resources and information for parents.

"Trevor Mallard has starved the preschool sector of funds. As Education Minister, he could only find $10 million extra for preschool last year. This year he scratched around and budgeted $50 million for the next three years. In comparison to the $800 for schools and tertiary institutions, that is a pittance.

"In his eagerness to build more facilities, Mr Mallard has turned a blind eye to the lack of qualified preschool teachers. Many abandon the profession because of appalling pay rates. An ERO Report pointed out that many preschools are little more than babysitting services offering poor quality pre-reading and numeracy education. More than one hundred Kohanga Reo have been closed down because the National Trust had concerns about their quality and management.

"Children are coming to school not ready to learn. The problem is more about the quality of our parenting than preschool experiences. Yet one of the best parenting programmes in this country, Family Start, did not get a single dollar extra in this years budget.

"Mr Mallard can build his classrooms wherever he wants, but if he is serious about getting children to school ready to learn, then he must front up with some real help," Donna Awatere Huata said.


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