Education Minister Hekia Parata’s decision to prioritise participation over quality has resulted in complaints about early childhood education centres soaring by 46 per cent in a year, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.
“The Ministry of Education’s annual summary of complaints against ECE services and Kohanga Reo shows 360 were lodged in 2014, up from 246 the year before.
“Of particular concern is that complaints for not having enough staff present skyrocketed by 190 per cent. Over the same period there was also an 89 per cent increase in fraud complaints and a 44 per cent increase in complaints about fee increases.
“The blame for these massive increases lies squarely at the feet of the Government. These complaints are symptomatic of a sector under increasing strain from underfunding.
“National scrapped Labour’s target to have qualified teachers at all centres while at the same time pushed to increase participation rates.
“The surge in complaints comes as kindies in the Wellington region last week announced they would be forced to lay off teachers because, since a 14 per cent cut to kindergarten funding in 2010, the Government has failed to ensure annual funding is adjusted for inflation – meaning they’ve had to absorb further funding cuts every year.
“National’s shortsighted cost-cutting is stopping our youngest kids get the best start they can. They are too important to our future to have their early years short-changed to help the Government meet its arbitrary financial goals,” Chris Hipkins says.