Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures

Press Release – NZEI

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is repeating its call for the government to support Canterbury children and their families by retaining staffing and funding levels in quake-affected schools and community- based early childhood centres over …6th October 2011

NZEI says extraordinary circumstances in Christchurch call for extraordinary measures

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is repeating its call for the government to support Canterbury children and their families by retaining staffing and funding levels in quake-affected schools and community- based early childhood centres over the next year.

NZEI’s Waitaha/Canterbury Area Council is hosting a public meeting at Papanui High School at 7pm tonight where the case will be put to politicians, community leaders, principals, parents, teachers and support staff.

Area Council Chair Sandra Spekreijse says at the very heart of the request are children from the most affected schools and centres in the district.

“Parents are adamant that trusted and caring teachers and support staff are essential for the stability and emotional support of their children. Keeping staff in place over the next year is essential for the on-going support and stability of children as they recover from the trauma of the past year,” she says.

“Over the past year, our teachers and support staff have been heroic. In many cases they have put their own needs on the back burner as they’ve worked to support children and their families.”

Mrs Spekreijse says while NZEI welcomes Education Minister Anne Tolley’s announcement of a consultation on the future of education in Canterbury, schools and early childhood centres are looking for immediate help and support with both staffing and funding. They want fair and equitable decisions to be made about funding and staffing in all parts of the education sector – from early childhood to tertiary.

“This doesn’t appear to be happening at the moment – given the Government has already guaranteed University funding for 2012 at 2011 levels. This is exactly what the rest of the sector wants and needs”.

“It’s hard to focus on the future when you’re worried about losing the very people who’ve been keeping our schools together over the past 12 months – valuable teachers and support staff.

“What makes it even worse is that support staff are currently funded from operational grants. So schools are now facing the unenviable task of either laying off staff or undertaking essential maintenance tasks like getting the playground, the driveway or the roof fixed”.

“We already know that 16 or the 18 ECE centres in quake-affected parts of the city have experienced at least $700,000 in funding cuts due to roll drops – this has led to job losses, and pay cuts with some centres facing possible closure”.

“It takes at least five years to get an early childhood centre up and running. Our centres have all been an essential part of the community support network in Christchurch and to see closing is a major blow to the educational infrastructure in the city,” she says.

Mrs Spekreijse said she had called the meeting so the public had a forum to hear about what was going on in schools and centres and to support them.

“Extraordinary circumstances call for an extraordinary response so we can support our children, families and communities as they recover from the trauma of the past year,” she says.

ENDS

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