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Kindergartens Criticise National Proposal To Cut Early Childhood Education Funding Again

Kindergartens Aotearoa, the collective representing 365 kindergartens and other early childhood services, considers National’s education policy short-sighted for its proposed cuts to early childhood services that employ 100 per cent qualified teachers.

Despite $2 billion in extra education spending overall, National proposes cutting funding to services by $278 million, by not paying for 100 per cent qualified teachers.

This appears inconsistent with National’s announced commitment to the first 1,000 days of life and all the evidence that shows the early years make the most difference.

Longitudinal studies such as the world- famous Dunedin study show that the first three years make the biggest impact on a child’s life particularly in literacy, attitudes to ongoing learning, sense of belonging and employment and earnings. It simply makes no sense to reduce quality for this age group.

In 2010, the National government cut funding to many early childhood centres by up to 13 per cent, because it didn’t consider that young children deserve qualified teachers. This led to many community-based early childhood centres closing, reducing choice and quality for families.

After ten years of advocacy by those with children’s interests at heart, the Labour-led government finally restored the funding. Over time, this would lead to many services employing more qualified teachers, and more teachers training.

Kindergartens Aotearoa represents services catering for 18,500 children from North Auckland to South Otago, and employs 2300 teaching, advisory and support staff.

Spokesperson Amanda Coulston says teaching and caring for young children is important work – all the research shows the early years make the most difference.

She says it is unbelievable that National is proposing to reintroduce cuts to quality again.

“It is about valuing children and their needs. Every parent and caregiver who entrusts their children to an early childhood centre in New Zealand should be able to know that 100 per cent of the required staff are qualified registered teachers.”, says Amanda.

“In Māori language week, we would like to remind the National Party of the whakatauki or proverb - Poipoia te kakano kia puawai – Nurture the seed and it will blossom.”

“We need to nurture all of our children in quality education, whatever party is in government”.

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