Today is the day that Anne Tolley’s $400 million dollar cut to early childhood education bites. A sector which delivers $13 value for every $1 invested is really going to hurt.
Centres themselves are having different responses: 90% of centres are definitely raising fees – between $2 – $80 per week, with an average of between $20-$45 per week depending on what region you’re in. The ECE my child goes to is not in the 90% – because they increased their fees in sync with the increase of GST last year.
Parents will have different responses too. Those that can will just pay the extra – anything for their child’s future. But many will have to partly or wholly remove their children from from the education that will shape their ability to fulfil their hopes and dreams.
As a reminder, the top 2 levels of funding have been cut completely (80-100% and 100% qualified teachers), so most centres are also replacing some qualified staff with unqualified ones as through natural attrition; other funding levels haven’t been increased for inflation or wage rises, and there was nothing to cover last October’s GST rise. The top band of funding is now 60-80%, and quality will inevitably suffer: would you accept it if only 60% of teachers at your primary or secondary school were unqualified?
Early Childhood Education is in fact the most important education we can do. Nothing makes a more consistent difference to children’s lives. It’s not just that the kid who knows how to read when they reach primary school is at a massive advantage that they keep throughout schooling (although that too), they learn much more fundamental skills that place them in good stead in society, and will see them develop into life’s “successes”.
This is when children learn Self-Control. And those with a greater level of self-control will have far less use of the justice system, the health system and of benefits. In general they will be able to put much more into the community than they will need to take out.
And this is when children learn to understand emotions, particularly in others. They develop empathy and an understanding of community. They learn to interact, to play well with others; lessons that make the whole nation a happier place.
So why is National cutting such a valuable sector, with such amazing long-term results?
Like asset sales, it’s just more short-termist thinking from a hopefully short-term government.
National Ltd: Selling New Zealand’s Future.