Families forced to sacrifice early childhood education to make ends meet
Fee increases in early childhood education are helping push up the cost of living and families should not be forced to sacrifice their children’s education to make ends meet, says the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa.
Latest figures show that the cost of early childhood education went up by 11.7% in the year to June – similar to the rise in fruit and vegetables prices and overall transport costs.
Rising costs for ECE are due to government funding cuts which removed hundreds of millions of dollars from early childhood budgets. The cuts targeted those services with more than 80% qualified staff, and have led to big fee increases for parents as services juggle reduced funding.
“An 11.7% increase in the cost of early childhood education is significant and represents one of the largest increases across all the goods and services measured. What it means is that early childhood costs are contributing significantly to overall inflation,” says NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter.
It also means that for many families, early childhood education is taking a big chunk out of their income at the same time as they battle soaring prices for food and petrol.
Paul Goulter says “the tragedy is that many families– faced with trying to pay for the basics - will be forced to take their children out of essential early childhood education because they can no longer afford it.”
“It’s not a choice the government should be forcing on families and it goes against the own rhetoric of trying to increase participation in early childhood education, especially for children in low income areas.”
“Early childhood education must not be something families are forced to sacrifice to make ends meet,” he says.
NZEI continues to call on the government to reinstate the funding cuts to early childhood services, commit to a target of 100% qualified staff and invest 1% of GDP on ECE.
Hundreds of early childhood teachers will be rallying in Wellington’s Civic Square at 12.30pm today in the hope of making the government listen.