The last Labour government introduced 20 hours free early childhood education. It’s a resource that many parents have since come to rely on, taking some pressure off household budgets as every other cost seems to keep on going up and up.
Well, don’t get too used to it parents. The Herald reports:
The 20 hours of free care children 3 and over receive in early childhood centres is under review, despite the Government’s election promise that it would not cut or change the popular scheme.
Education Minister Anne Tolley established an independent taskforce this month to review the effectiveness of spending in the early childhood education sector and propose innovative ideas about learning.
Questioned this week in Parliament about whether funding for the 20-hours scheme would be exempt from the review, she replied: “No, but this Government promised to retain the subsidies and fee controls that make up 20 hours’ early childhood services.”
When pushed on what would happen if the taskforce recommended making changes to the scheme, Mrs Tolley said she could not anticipate the outcome of the review.
Can anyone else read the coded message in this language? Why do you “review” something if you have ruled out changes? This is just the latest in a series of indictions that the Nats are planning to cut 20 hours free — we have written on this before here and here. Labour’s Sue Moroney is also raising the red flag (see her press release on Tuesday on broken promises).
Cutting early childhood is stupid, short term thinking from National, even worse than slashing adult and community (night classes). Early childhood education is one of the best investments a government can make. But it is an investment for the future, and National doesn’t seem to be interested in that.