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$118 Million Sunk Into Flawed IT System That Won’t Pay ECE Teachers Properly

The Ministry of Education keeps sinking money into Pourato, a new IT system meant to deliver funding for employers to pay Early Childhood Education teachers, despite sector concerns since 2015 about the outdated funding approach.

Early Childhood Council investigations have revealed that designing and building Pourato has cost the taxpayer $118 million since 2015.

“The Ministry has some serious questions to answer – why didn’t they stop the Pourato project in 2019 when major failures were raised, and why invest millions more when they still don’t know what they need to build? This highlights the current flawed thinking that paying teachers properly is someone else’s problem,” said ECC CEO Simon Laube.

The project has a chequered history, reporting cost escalations, and suppliers terminated for delivery performance below the Ministry’s expectations in September 2022. A year later, then-Minister of Education Jan Tinetti ordered expensive consultants be ditched by December 2024, bringing the ECE component ‘in-house’ at the Ministry, with school components apparently complete and working.

“$118 million is an extraordinary amount of public money to spend on a flawed funding system, we’ve not seen failure on this scale since Novopay. The Ministry has effectively built the solution before consulting the sector to determine a new approach to funding. When the previous Government took over with no intention of reviewing funding in 2017, the Ministry should have suggested separating have ECE from the Pourato IT system design entirely,” said Simon Laube.

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There are deep concerns about the Ministry’s current flawed funding approach, which sees parents picking up the shortfalls, including for teachers above ratio, non-funded Pay Parity teacher salary costs and government’s overall failures to keep up with other rising costs. Pourato simply continues with the current approach as if nothing was wrong.

“The Pourato failure just reinforces the urgent need to commence a funding review, and pause further IT projects until we know what the solution needs to look like,” said Simon Laube.

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