NZEI Te Riu Roa says that the Government needs to invest more in quality early childhood education and sound education policies if it is to make a difference to vulnerable children living in poverty.
In a briefing report released today by UNICEF entitled What Will It Take? a group of 80 organisations from the education, health, social and business sectors, including NZEI, voiced concern at the lack of action to help New Zealand's most vulnerable children over recent years.
New Zealand children are among the most vulnerable in the OECD with our children having some of the worst outcomes in that group. New Zealand ranks 20th out of 35 in terms of child poverty.
In its Green Paper on vulnerable children earlier this year entitled Every Child Thrives, Belongs, Achieves the Government says access to early childhood education is vital to vulnerable children. However it has effectively cut funding for these services in the last two Budgets.
NZEI Te Riu Roa early childhood education spokesperson Hayley Whitaker says the funding cuts mean parents are paying on average 11 percent more in fees.
"There is a danger that parents struggling financially will not send their children to ECE or send them to a centre of lesser quality. Research shows that quality early childhood education is crucial for children from lower socio economic backgrounds and is one of the biggest influences on education achievement in later life," she says. "Quality ECE is the best investment we can make for our children."
NZEI Te Riu Roa president Ian Leckie says the Government's flawed National Standards policy would further label vulnerable children and do nothing to help them succeed.
"The reason these children do not achieve educationally at school is complex. But it is clear that the 'out of school" reasons cited in this report, - such as the impacts of poverty, ill-health, and abuse - play a huge role in student success. The focus needs to be on our children. The Government needs to stop experimenting with league tables, charter schools and National Standards which are all likely to increase inequity, and instead improve funding and support for existing programmes with demonstrable success."
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