The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says a survey on early childhood education shows the government is out of touch and urgently needs to restore funding to struggling services.
The survey by the research group ChildForum had responses from 241 early childhood education service owners and managers, teachers and parents.
It found that 61 percent of teacher- led services were unhappy with the current situation in the ECE sector and a lack of funding was the biggest concern. It also shows that last year’s funding cuts to services with more than 80% qualified staff are biting, with many services saying they are finding it hard to make ends meet and are being forced to make cutbacks.
Many centres have lost almost 13 percent of their budgets and as a result fees to parents have gone up by 12% nationwide.
“We know that services are struggling and this survey provides yet more evidence that the sector feels like it is under attack and is not feeling optimistic about the future,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.
NZEI has presented a petition with more than 62,000 signatures to parliament, which calls for the funding cuts to be reversed and for more investment in early childhood education.
The survey backs up that call with respondents saying that the best thing the government can do for early childhood education is to restore funding and the target for 100% qualified teachers.
Hayley Whitaker says “that reinforces what teachers are telling us especially as they face the prospect of having to cut costs further next year and again increase fees to already cash-strapped families”.
“This ChildForum survey once again highlights the huge gap between the government’s rhetoric on early childhood education and what is actually happening on the ground”.