Minister’s target put above giving kids the best start

Information obtained by the Green Party today shows the Education Minister has sought no data or proof that her Government’s drive to increase the numbers of children in Early Childhood Education (ECE) is leaving those children better off.

A Green Party parliamentary question shows that school readiness of children is not being monitored, despite large changes in early childhood education.  The National Government has set a Better Public Service target of 98 percent participation rate by 2016 in Early Childhood Education, without seeking any evidence that children are better off as a result.

“By pushing participation rates at any cost, the Government is knowingly putting very young children at risk,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“All the evidence shows that young children are only better off in ECE if the quality is very high. The Minister is choosing not to focus on quality in her drive to meet her own attendance targets.  It’s no surprise to learn now that she has also chosen not to know if children she is driving into ECE are any better off for it.

“The Education Ministry, the Education Review Office, the chief education science advisor and advisory groups have all told the Minister there are serious quality issues with some early childhood education services, and these were putting thousands of kids at risk.

“Everything the Government has done has driven down the quality of ECE at the same time it has been forcing more and more children to participate.

“This Government scrapped the requirement for all teachers in the sector to be qualified, it has encouraged the proliferation of low quality ECE, scrapped a review of the home based sector following serious concerns, and threatened to cut families’ benefits if they don’t enrol their children in ECE.

“Early childhood education is relied upon by many families around the country, and families should be able to trust that their kids are being properly educated and looked after,” Ms Delahunty said. 

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