NZ Kindergarten on Treasury's ECE Recommendations
3 February 2012
New Zealand Kindergarten (NZK) Response to Treasury Briefing Recommendations for Early Childhood Education
New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) warns that targeting early childhood education (ECE) funding in place of supporting universal access could mean many children and families fall through the cracks.
“The benefits of high quality ECE extend all the way up the income ladder and for all socio-economic groups. Purely targeting funding to early childhood education services will have limited success reaching target populations and is administratively expensive,” said Clare Wells, NZK Chief Executive.
Research evidence shows that the economic benefits of early childhood education are maximised by universal provision.
The Early Childhood Education Taskforce’s recent report, An Agenda for Amazing Children, concludes that “…investing in early childhood education can be thought of as one of the most effective uses of taxpayer funds.”
“Our current system is a universal model with funding going to ECE services. In addition to that, extra funding goes to support particular communities including low socio-economic communities,” Clare Wells said.
The ECE funding system allows all 3, 4 and 5 year old children and families to access 20 free hours of early childhood education. From 2006-2010, there was a 16.8% increase in Māori children enrolled in ECE services and a 24.9% increase in Pasifika children.
“New Zealand has a world-class education system,” said Clare Wells. “Our early childhood education services are an integral part of it and should be accessible to all children - just like primary and secondary school.”
The government has set a target of 98% of new entrants in schools participating in ECE by 2015. NZK believes it is essential that the government support universal access to ECE in order to reach this goal.
“The best way to increase participation rates and maximise the benefits of participation in early childhood education among low-income, Māori and Pasifika children is to provide the resources and support for services to offer high quality education, be innovative, culturally relevant and partner with those communities, “ said Clare Wells.
New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) Incorporated, Te Putahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa, is the umbrella organisation representing twenty-nine regional kindergarten associations covering over 430 kindergartens and early childhood education (ECE) services. Nationally kindergartens provide services for 37,600 enrolled children as well as support for their families and whānau. Over one-third of all four year olds enrolled in ECE in New Zealand attend a kindergarten. Almost 20% of Māori children enrolled in ECE attend kindergarten.
Children who attend high-quality early childhood education are better prepared for school, are more likely to stay in school longer and to succeed in school. New Zealand research has found effects of quality ECE remain evident at age 16 years.
“We found that high-quality centres had a positive, long-lasting association with student’s literacy, numeracy and logical problem solving competencies, and also with their social skills.”
International research had found similarly remarkable benefits of early childhood education.
“Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.”