Paying for free education

My kids’ kindergarten has just given us a letter saying that, due to government funding cuts, they will now be asking for a 50c per hour donation from the parents of each child to help cover the costs of our twenty free hours of early childhood education. For our two children that works out to about $13 a week, or $500 for the year. We can probably spring for that sort of cash, as can, I imagine, many but not all the parents in Island Bay.

But I’m also pretty sure Island Bay is not an average suburb when it comes to spare cash lying about to pay for kindergartens.

Wellington Kindergarten Association says that the cuts are the result of the government choosing to fund only 80 percent fully qualified teachers in kindergartens. (Imagine if they made a similar decision with other professionals?) The government also cut the funding to support training and professional development for registered teachers. And, it commissioned a report to look into removing universal access to twenty free hours, instead proving funding to groups where participation is low. User pays for the rest.

The outcome is a cut in funding of about $48,000 for each kindergarten in Wellington.

As the kindergarten association says:

“It ignores the widespread view that high quality education, with its wide and long-term benefits to society, should be freely accessible and available to all New Zealand families.”

The Minister said last year, when she made the cuts:

“I think it is unlikely that most centres will pass on those costs, because they are able to change their staffing, they are able to change their services—they are able to do a number of things in order to make those changes.”

She then went on to ‘express disappointment’ in a range of early childhood education providers who did introduce ‘voluntary’ donations to cover their costs.

Well, it seems to me that Wellington Kindergarten Association has done all it can to avoid asking for donations. It has waited over a year since the first budget announcement. it has changed its hours and services. And now, because of its commitment to high quality teaching it has still been left no choice but to charge money for free education.

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3 thoughts on “Paying for free education

  1. Welcome to Doublespeak, National Party-style. All the free eduction you can afford. Folks, remember this when the election ‘promises’ start coming out.

  2. Wow, I expected this policy to hit creche fees hard, but not kindergartens – this must be the most retrograde policy decision that the Kindergarten Association has had to deal with, nationally. What do they expect decile 1 neighbourhoods to do? Sack the experienced, trained kindy teachers & hire untrained teenagers??? Or get unemployed mums to do kindy tasks under the supervision of one trained staffmember?

    This is just ridiculous, it shows where their future priorities are for education: one option for the rich, and nothing if you can’t afford to pay, bringing back feudal conditions in the community within one generation. Perhaps they have finally acknowledged that within 20 years our society wil be radically different due to climate change and the end of cheap oil, and their only answer is to hog the resources for the rich, and ensure there’s plenty of cheap, uneducated labour to do the menial tasks that we’ll need to do manually now that there’s no oil…

  3. the frightening thing is that not only are many centres loosing trained staff in order to be able to keep operating under the budget cuts but GSE have had huge cuts to their budget and are unable to employ support workers to work alongside children with severe special needs. The risk for dire eductaional outcome for these children in centres without trained staff or trained support workers is troubling. This is a government shirking their responsibilities to our youngest and most vunerable members of society. Vote education!!!!!

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