Increased investment - does it go far enough?
The $172.5 million to early childhood education (ECE) over the next four years receives a cautious welcome from New Zealand Kindergartens.
“While are pleased to see more funding to support participation in the Government’s ‘target’ communities, we are concerned that the general increase falls short of matching the increasing operational costs of ECE services” said New Zealand Kindergartens Chief Executive Clare Wells.
“Kindergarten has had significant cuts in funding over the last few years and today’s announcement brings the universal funding rate back to just above where it was five years ago” Clare Wells said.
“Increased funding pressures compromises quality, affordability and access to services at the very time the Government is looking to increase the quality of services and lift participation” said Clare Wells. “Funding needs to keep pace with costs to make sure services remain viable and responsive to the needs of children and families across our diverse communities” she said.
The budget increases funding to support teacher professional development. “It appears this relates only to the schools sector ignoring the 15,000 plus qualified and registered teachers in ECE” said Clare Wells. “If we aim to ensure five out of five children succeed in education – and teachers are central to that – then all teachers must be well supported regardless of where they teach.”
The Minister announced savings have been made through stopping grants to help newly qualified teachers become registered teachers and scholarships to assist teachers into teacher education programmes. “The grant was cut for kindergarten in 2010. Now it has been axed for the rest of the sector. This is disappointing especially at a time when we are looking to improve the quality of ECE and ensure children have access to high quality services and great teachers.” said Clare Wells.
The budget provides for the Christchurch renewal programme. “We recognise the significant task in Christchurch to rebuild the education network. ECE services are integral to the education network and we seek assurance this new funding includes ECE.” Clare Wells said.
“While we welcome new funding for ECE, we question whether it goes far enough to ensure every young child has access to and can participate in a high quality ECE service. That remains to be seen” Clare Wells said.
For further comment: Please contact NZK Chief Executive Clare Wells 0272 955 044
New Zealand Kindergartens (NZK) Incorporated, Te Pūtahi Kura Pūhou o Aotearoa, is the umbrella organisation representing twenty-nine regional kindergarten associations covering over 440 kindergartens and early childhood education services. Nationwide kindergartens provide services for 36,000 enrolled children as well as support for their families and whānau. We are committed to working with parents, communities and the government to offer high quality services, with 100% qualified teachers, which meet the unique needs of children and whānau.
NZK provides services to all families. Almost two-thirds of kindergartens are in low and middle income areas. After nga kōhanga reo and correspondence school, kindergarten has the highest percentage of Māori children attending (21%), and among Pasifika children, kindergarten has the highest percentage attending alongside education and care services (8%)1. Almost twenty per cent of early childhood education enrolments in communities with a Ministry of Health deprivation index rating of 10 (the most socio-economically deprived communities) are in kindergartens.
1. Ministry of Education (2012) Education Counts. Retrieved from: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/ece2.