The Green Party is calling out the Government over its drive to increase the number of children in Early Childhood Education.
Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty says the Government’s target of 98% participation rate by 2016 in ECE is putting children at risk, stating the Government has not sought any evidence that children are better off after participating in ECE.
“By pushing participation rates at any cost, the Government is knowingly putting very young children at risk,” says Delahunty.
“All the evidence shows that young children are only better off in ECE if the quality is very high,” she adds.
Delahunty says Education Minister Hekia Parata 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,” Delahunty says.
Delahunty says school readiness of children is not being monitored, despite large changes in early childhood education.
“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,” she explains.
“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,” Delahunty says.
“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,” she continues.
“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.”