United call from early childhood sector over chronic underfunding
(Joint Media Statement - Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand, New Zealand Education Institute, New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated)
6 June 2017
Groups representing more than 400 kindergartens and 500 Early Childhood Education services have joined with teachers to express serious concern for the education of New Zealand children following years of chronic underfunding.
New Zealand Kindergartens have come together with Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand, and NZEI Te Riu Roa to warn that Government funding decisions are placing high quality early childhood education at risk.
The per-child hourly funding rate for ECE has stayed virtually the same since 2008, and funding for qualified teachers has never been restored since it was cut in 2010. Last month's budget dashed hope in the sector that this would be fixed.
“Our organisations believe New Zealand needs to understand what the continual underfunding of education for our youngest citizens means, and what is at stake,” said Clare Wells, CEO of NZ Kindergartens.
“New Zealand has the opportunity to provide every child with the best early education as of right, and to set them up on a life-long learning journey, but funding decisions are undermining that opportunity,” Ms Wells said.
The three groups are calling for the Government to commit to quality education for every child, by restoring funding to the sector that's been eroded since 2008, and restoring the goal and funding needed for 100 percent qualified teachers.
“A fifth of all young people in education are in ECE. It makes no sense to deprive some of these children the best education we can possibly give them,” said Lynda Stuart, President of NZEI Te Riu Roa, which represents ECE teachers.
“Teachers don't understand why the Government is divesting itself of responsibility for the learning of our youngest children while at the same time requiring children to attend through their Better Public Service targets.”
“The tragedy is, the combined pressures of compulsory enrolment , funding restrictions, and disincentives to hire quality teachers mean disadvantaged children are the most likely to miss out on the kind of quality ECE that can transform their lives.”
“Our organisations are committed to high quality, teacher-led early childhood education, which is crucial to giving children the best start to their life-long learning journey,” said Kathy Wolfe CE of Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand.
“By keeping the per child funding rate at 2008 levels, the Government is forcing services to cut costs by either employing untrained, lower paid staff, or cutting back on learning and curriculum resources. For those of us who refuse to compromise on quality, it is fast becoming a race for survival,” Ms Wolfe said.
Kathy Wolfe (Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand - ECNZ) 021 448 626
Lynda Stuart (New Zealand Education Institute - NZEI) 021 211 5890
Clare Wells (New Zealand Kindergartens Incorporated - NZK) 027 2955 044