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Private providers shut out - again

Anne Tolley National Early Childhood Spokesperson

1 November 2001

Private providers shut out - again

The report on the early childhood sector will see early childhood centres face the same fate as the rest of the education sector - a trip back in time to the 1970s, National's Early Childhood Education spokesperson Anne Tolley said today.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard today released the final report from the Early Childhood Strategic Plan Working Group. The report will form the basis of the Government's Strategic Plan for Early Childhood Education.

"Increased participation and high quality programmes must be the primary focus of any early childhood education strategy. But preventing competition and diversification in the sector will deliver exactly the opposite.

"The fact that the NZEI describes the report as a 'dream come true' should have alarm bells ringing for parents and private providers.

"The union strongly recommends the Government implement a moratorium on government funding of new for-profit (private) centres. We questioned Mr Mallard about the Government's response to this recommendation in Parliament this afternoon, but he refused to comment.

"Given the Government's implementation of exactly the same provisions in the tertiary sector, there is no reason why they would suddenly have a change of heart in early childhood.

"The early childhood sector is incredibly diverse and responsive to the needs of local communities. Private centres arise because there is community demand for them. The Labour Government thinks kindergartens are the best option for early childhood education for all New Zealand children and wants to shut out any innovation or diversity in the sector," Mrs Tolley said.

Ends

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