Press Release – NZEI
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is calling on the government to act urgently to help support families and struggling early childhood services in quake-affected areas of Christchurch.Urgent action required to support early childhood education in Christchurch East
The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa is calling on the government to act urgently to help support families and struggling early childhood services in quake-affected areas of Christchurch.
A just-released report to the Ministry of Education on the impact of the quakes on early childhood education in Christchurch East, shows enrolments are well down and participation rates, particularly among Māori and Pasifika children, have dropped significantly.
It makes a raft of recommendations to help support and encourage attendance in the area. It says services should be able to offer some flexibility to families without financial loss, staff should be able to spend more time with affected and transitioning families, enrolments and population shifts should be carefully monitored, crown land could be made available for damaged centres to relocate, and the benefits of early childhood participation should be promoted in the community.
“It is great to see early childhood education in Christchurch finally getting some attention and priority,” says NZEI National Executive member Hayley Whitaker.
Since last year’s February quake early childhood services, particularly community-based centres, have been facing huge financial difficulties. A survey last year showed 16 of the 18 ECE centres in quake-affected parts of the city experienced at least $700,000 in funding cuts due to roll drops. Those funding drops have meant job losses or pay cuts for staff and have seen centres reducing operating hours or facing closure.
Hayley Whitaker says last year the government repeatedly ignored calls from NZEI and early childhood centres to guarantee pre-quake funding levels throughout the year to help give them some certainty.
“It’s critical for Christchurch’s children and families that ECE centres have enough funding and support going into the future. ECE centres play a big part in building and keeping community networks together and that’s important in areas where communities have been damaged or dislocated.”
“The situation is urgent and the Ministry needs to act on some of the positive recommendations in this report. It’s vital that children can participate in early childhood education and everything must be done to make that as easy as possible for the families in and communities of east Christchurch,” Ms Whitaker says.