Early childhood system 'in crisis' - union

  • 07/11/2016

Early childhood education (ECE) desperately needs better funding, the New Zealand Education Institute teachers' union says.

An event at Hill Street Early Childhood in Wellington on Monday morning will publicise the campaign to restore funding and quality to ECE.

The union says they've been running at a loss for six years and many will fold if they don't get more funding.

Tim Lainson from the Early Childhood Council says Government budget cuts and decreased funding per child have the industry in crisis.

"The cuts therefore the reduction in revenue hurt the centres but they're invisible to the parents, and the impact we calculate over the last six years has been, for an average centre, around $96,000 a year."

Pre-school centres have been forced to cut teacher pay, rely more on untrained staff, reduce qualified time with children and ask for more cash from parents, all of which is unsustainable, the union said after it surveyed 264 out of more than 4500 ECEs.

But the Minister for Education claims funding has more than doubled since 2007 to now more than $1.6 billion.

The union argues that since 2010 the Government has only been funding a maximum of 80 per cent trained staff and an extra $369 million in this year's budget over four years will be swallowed up by more children taking part.

It wants the Government to commit to having all fully trained staff in ECEs, fund them 100 percent and increase per-child funding to 2010 levels, inflation adjusted.

It also wants to reduce class sizes and the teacher-to-child ratios.

The Government has a target of 98 percent of children starting school having previously participated in ECE by December 2016.

The ECE participation rate has hit a record high, Education Minister Hekia Parata has said.

In the year to March 2016, 96.6 percent of children starting school had participated in ECE. That's an increase of 1.9 percentage points from 2011 or in actual terms almost 4000 more children.

NZN / Newshub.