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60,000 sign petition against cuts to early childhood ed

60,000 sign petition against cuts to early childhood education

More than 60,000 New Zealanders have signed a petition calling on the government to reverse the cuts to early childhood education and invest more in our youngest children.

The petition was launched in February by the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa and has been circulating in communities throughout the country.

Government budget cuts to early childhood education have meant many early childhood services have lost almost 13% of their funding. The cuts targeted centres with more than 80% qualified staff and have resulted in fee rises to parents of up to 12% nationwide.

“We’ve seen funding cut to more than 2,000 services, the target for having 100% qualified teachers has been abandoned, professional development for early childhood teachers has been cut and support for teachers in training and new graduates has been reduced,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.

“The number of people who have signed the petition should send the government a clear message that these cuts are hurting families and communities and chip away at quality early childhood education for our children.”

The petition calls for the funding cuts to be reversed and for the government to commit to a plan to invest 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.

It comes at a time when the government’s own advice from the Early Childhood Taskforce and the Gluckman Report says that investing in early childhood education must be considered a priority even in times of fiscal constraint.

The petition is being presented at a rally in Auckland today (July 9) following the “Big Push” march up Queen St. Hundreds of people with buggies and pushchairs are expected to take part in the “Big Push” which starts at 11am from Queen Elizabeth Square. Due to forecasted rain, the rally will now take place in the Pioneer Womens’ Hall in Freyberg Square at 11.30am, rather than in Aotea Square as originally scheduled.

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