In 2010, the government cut both teaching standards and fuding for early childhood education. The result? Half of ECE centres are failing to educate children:
The government is under fire for pushing "bums on seats" in the early childhood sector while ignoring concerns about quality.
Teachers' union NZEI and the Green Party say a report released by the Education Review Office showing almost half of early childhood services are not doing enough to help under-threes learn reinforces there are huge problems with quality in the sector.
The report focused on communication and exploration - two key parts of New Zealand's early childhood curriculum, which services are obligated to implement to get a licence.
The curriculum aims to support good "learning dispositions" which set children up for better outcomes - research shows good early childhood education can support better employment, income, criminal justice and health later in life. The study found 46 per cent of services did not provide a curriculum that helped children become competent and confident communicators and explorers - 30 per cent were classified as having "limited responsiveness", while 16 per cent were "not responsive".
The fundamental problem here is that the government views the ECE sector as babysitters rather than educators, and so doesn't see the value of qualified, registered teachers. And the above is what you get with that approach: substandard education, which feeds into our primary schools and the rest of our education system.
The real tragedy here is that ECE is one of the best investments a government can make. If you want people to succeed in life, you start at the beginning, with high-quality ECE. The government's refusal to fund a high-quality, universal ECE system simply shows how shortsighted they are; rather than investing in our future, they'd rather give tax cuts to the 1%.