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Wrong approach to investment in early childhood education

16 November 2011
For Immediate Use

Wrong approach to investment in early childhood education

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says is questioning why taxpayer money is being given to private early childhood businesses for properties in south Auckland.

The government has announced that Kids Count and Learning Houses Limited will receive $1.09 million to build two new ECE services in Papakura North and Weymouth West. Another company, You and Me Limited, will receive $181,000 to extend two existing services in those areas.

“What works in low income areas are community-based services, including kindergartens and Pacific and Māori language nests, which have clearer links and cater specifically to local families and whanau,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.

“We know that many of these types of services tendered for these contracts and it is concerning to see them missing out. I think people should be alarmed to see hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money being given to private business to own property, run ECE services, and then reap the profits”.

“It could set a dangerous precedent and doesn’t sit well in terms of trying to provide quality early childhood education. Having commercially-driven early childhood services which don’t reflect the communities they are in, will simply put up more barriers for those families the government is trying to target,” she says.

“It also leaves early childhood education to the vagaries of the market, because if these businesses are not running a profit, they will increase their fees, or shut up shop. There are no mechanisms nor guarantees to ensure this won’t happen”.

NZEI believes what these communities need is investment in a publicly funded network of early childhood services, not public investment that will simply line the pockets of private business.

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