Early childhood education five-point call to PM and political leaders

Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand urges the new Prime Minister and all political parties to put affordable, quality early childhood education for all young tamariki at the heart of their policies in 2023 as a matter of urgency. 

High costs to parents, over-stretched teachers and ECE services facing debt or closure because of teacher shortages and funding shortfalls are symptoms of a sector in crisis, says Te Rito Maioha chief executive Kathy Wolfe. 

“We have written an open letter to the new Prime Minister and other political party leaders with five key calls to be addressed with both urgency and strategic vision.” 

  1. Improve child-teacher ratios – currently among the worst in the OECD – so that tamariki can thrive, learn and be safe with quality education and attention from teachers. 

  2. Tackle teacher shortages with a meaningful strategic workforce plan to attract, retain and develop a professional, culturally responsive ECE teaching workforce from within Aotearoa New Zealand.  

  3. Fund ECE services sufficiently to deliver pay parity for kaiako and quality education to tamariki without charging high fees to parents.

  4. Urgently replace the outdated, dysfunctional ECE funding model to meet the real needs of today’s working whānau, tamariki and ECE services. 

  5. Simplify regulations to support quality education delivery without over-burdening ECE services with labour-intensive administration demands from multiple agencies. 

“Quality early childhood education is a bread-and-butter issue for kiwi families and whānau,” says Kathy Wolfe. 

“It enables parents – especially women –  to work,  support their families and build careers knowing that their children are learning and thriving. It sets young children up for life-long success in learning and employment. It benefits the labour force, the economy, employers and business, and society as a whole. 

“Right now, thanks to dysfunctional funding, teacher shortages slow pay parity... and disappointing delivery of the Early Learning Action Plan from Government, the sector is struggling. Parents pay some of the highest costs in the OECD, and the future success of young tamariki is at risk, especially those in less advantaged communities. 

“In our organisation’s 60 years of advocating to governments, we’ve seen progress hard won and then lost, see-sawing between Labour-led Governments and National-led Governments. 

“Early childhood education should not be a political football. It crosses political boundaries, benefits individuals, families, society, and the economy, and sets the future path for our youngest tamariki during the most important learning years of their lives.  

“With an election on the horizon, we urge political leaders to break the moulds of the past, urgently invest and take action for early childhood education for our young tamariki and the success of future New Zealand.”