ECE – cuts bite today

Written By: - Date published: 3:33 pm, February 1st, 2011 - 23 comments
Categories: education - Tags: , ,

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.

23 comments on “ECE – cuts bite today”

  1. Lanthanide

    Can someone provide links to studies that show ECE is really as valuable as many people claim?

    I’ve seen this over and over again, but never anything to back it up.

    Note: I’m not suggesting you’re making it up, I’m simply saying I haven’t see any hard data to convince myself.

  2. Bill

    Wonder why there are never any questions asked and solutions demanded for why we have a need to ‘farm out’ our kids to strangers?

    I mean, fuck it. Sure. You work during the day and can (maybe) use child care facilities. And if you’re a single parent the faux caring of society or the state ends at 5:30 or whenever because…why? Because kids ‘disappear’ around then? And anyway, social isolation is fine just so long as you are able to work a 9 – 5 or some portion thereof?

    If toddlers spending their time in the care of institutions, latch-key kids hanging around after school and solo parents experiencing high degrees of social isolation are signs of our society being broken, then shouldn’t we ‘kicking in the head’ the forces that are breaking it and claiming back a sense of community? Instead of enabling those forces by altering our life’s to suit their destructive dynamics?

    • Rosy

      You’re right about social isolation and the destructive dynamics of our societal structures and yes we should be claiming back a sense of community. But to tie that in with a need to ‘farm out’ kids to strangers is not quite how I see it.

      ECE workers are strangers (as are visiting aunts, uncles, cousins etc) at the begining but become an integral part of the life of the family, all going well – a community relationship, for want of a better word – and this is the bit of childcare that the ECE funding will affect, resulting in a very much institutionalised environment. ECE is not all negative (in fact the ECE places I’ve seen, after school care and holiday programmes are excellent), social isolation is always negative; so protesting by not altering our lives to suit destructive dynamics is not the solution. In that way children suffer more.

      Claiming back community and ensuring high levels of child care are two aspects of nurturing that should run in tandem IMO. Yes, if we did have nurturing communities we could have our (older) children becoming independent at an earlier age and plenty of willing hands to care for the younger ones. It’s good for neither the child nor the parent to be mostly responsible for the other’s well-being.

      The place of teenagers is extrodinarily problematic – too big to be looked after, but not big enough to do without care and guidance, just when parents think they can leave them alone is when they need community most. I have no answers except for ‘ ‘kicking in the head’ the forces that are breaking it and claiming back a sense of community’

  3. ..and funnily enough, my youngest started his first day of kindy today. 3 days a week 8:30 til 2:30.

    WOOOHOOO…so i celebrated by joining a gym 🙂

    • fabregas4

      I don’t get this, you are celebrating being away from your child?

      • Rosy

        For 6 hours, 3 days a week the child gets to play, learn and socialise with a variety of human beings. The child is no longer bored silly or tired of staring at 4 walls while the parent is doing other household tasks. And when parent at child get back together at 2:30 there is a whole range of things to talk about, the usual activities at home don’t seem so boring and a bigger social group enabling further interaction is forming. What’s not to like?

      • yup what Rosy said…

        …plus school starts tomorrow for the other 2 littlies and the other 2 high schoolers next week. So i been a slave to them for the last 7 weeks.

        it’s been all good and we’ve had some fun but now i get some me time and it’ll make me and them better for it

        the kindy and the ladies who work there are awesome too. i and the kids are lucky and privileged to have such an inspiring and dedicated staff to be their first teachers.

      • higherstandard

        As are most parents at the end of the holiday period.

  4. hobbit

    >>>”Parents will have different responses”

    Yep; “My child, my responsibility” or “Outrageous! I demand someone else pays for MY child!”

    • Rosy

      Yeah! that’ll teach those kids for being born to parents who couldn’t keep up when the rules got changed on them. Serves them right if they miss out aye?

  5. Today is the day that Anne Tolley’s $400 million dollar cut to early childhood education bites.

    There is no $400m cut. The ECE budget is $100m higher this budget year than the last. It is the most the New Zealand Government has ever spent on ECE.

  6. big bruv


    What a tragedy, parents being asked to pay for a small sum for the education of their own kids.

    Where will it end?, will we all be forced to take personal responsibility next, will we be forced to only have the number of kids we can afford?

    Will DPB bludgers actually be forced to find work!

    • Lanthanide

      If you consider $2-$80/week, with the average being about $20-$45 (per child) is just a “small sum”, then evidently you don’t think much of National’s tax cuts either, because they were just “a small sum” for the vast majority of NZers.

  7. millsy

    There of course, is a solution to all this.

    (effectively) nationalise the ECE sector, and run the kindergartens/playcenters, etc along the lines of the school system, ie BOT’s, etc

    And give schools funding, to stay open past 3pm (or before 9am), to take into account working parents so they dont have to worry about having to find care for their child between 3 and 5 (or 6).

    And piss off big bruv, we all know you want the gap between rich and poor to blow out.

  8. Brad

    This article is nonsense. It clearly states that ECE is the most important education. Which is saying that a child who never went to kindergarten would be a better functioning member of society than someone who missed high school. I strongly disagree. What do you think?

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