According to a report by Infometrics, commissioned by primary teachers' union NZEI Te Riu Roa, the early childhood education sector is $260m worse off in 2017, owing to cuts that were made to funding for qualified staff in 2010, and funding failing to keep up with inflation.
Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand (ECNZ) said the report confirms the level of underfunding.
"The quantification of what we already knew, that the early childhood sector has been deprived of meaningful funding in recent years, is astonishing," said Kathy Wolfe, Chief Executive of ECNZ. "According to NZEI, in real terms, ECE services are around $58,000 worse off each per year, than they would have been if funding had not been slashed for qualified staff and had kept up with inflation. This is significant for services that were already running on very tight margins."
Last week, NZEI delivered to Parliament hundreds of drawings and messages from children from ECE centres around the country as part of its Have a Heart pledge, which aims to restore funding to ECE, reduce teacher to child ratios and restore the goal of 100 per cent trained teachers in ECE. The union claims that since 2010, new Government spending on ECE has focused on increasing participation, rather than quality.
"The fact is, while some children are getting a great ECE from qualified, professional teachers, some aren't. That's a tragedy for those children, and a massive lost opportunity for the country," says Paul Goulter, NZEI's National Secretary.