Campaign fighting to restore quality in early childhood education services

Early childhood education director Suzy McNatty said the increase in untrained staff is a "real concern" as she and ...
Kavinda Herath

Early childhood education director Suzy McNatty said the increase in untrained staff is a "real concern" as she and Millie Peck, 2, play tea party at day care.

The New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa has launched a campaign to fight for funding and quality for early childhood education.

The campaign, Every Child is Worth it, was launched on Monday and aims to raise awareness about the need for a better education.

NZEI early childhood sector representative and kindergarten teacher Virginia Oakly said current funding from the government was "insufficient".

"Services are struggling to stay viable, to stay open."

The early childhood education services (ECE) post budget 2016 survey of 264 early childhood centres in New Zealand showed ECE struggled with teacher pay cuts, increases in untrained staff and an increase in parental fees.

Having untrained staff can be "detrimental" to children in the early stages of schooling, Oakly said.

"We want to call on our country, our nation, to put the youngest, most vulnerable at the forefront."

Our children are worth it, they deserve a good education, not a minimum one, Oakly said.

Almost 90 percent of teaching staff surveyed recognise a lack of government funding in the past six years and believe it has led to a decrease in the quality of learning.

Invercargill Just Four Kids early childhood education director Suzy McNatty said the biggest issues were getting qualified teachers, parents struggling to afford day care and an unbalanced teacher to child ratio.

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"I'd definitely like to see more quality staff and more training for home-based educators."

More funding would improve facilities and take the pressure off teachers by employing more trained staff.

"Children learn better in a smaller, nurturing environment," she said.

Kew Pacific Island Early Childhood Centre centre supervisor Rebecca Saalologo said that the government could be doing more.

The children are the ones that miss out on extra funding, especially Maori, Pacific Island and children from low socio-economic families at their centre, she said.

The centre gets equity funding, but Saalologo said "we're lucky ... it's sad to think other children in mainstream centres are missing out".

Children benefit from being in early childhood care at a young age. Saalologo said she can see an increase in achievement in Maori and Pacific Island children in early child care.

 - Stuff

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